People in Doncaster have helped former homeless men enjoy a brighter Christmas and New Year, through a new fund.
A partnership fund set up to help vulnerable and homeless people in the town has already made a big difference, by giving practical help where needed to those recently helped in to accommodation.
It’s part of a bigger, intensive town centre scheme that has seen 40 homeless people supported in to better situations since September.
Joe and Michael are the first two people to benefit from the Real Help Doncaster fund. A former long-term homeless person, Joe, 42, now has a flat but needed a bed for his children to come and stay with him.
The bed was delivered just before Christmas and the message from the happy recipient was “thank you, this means so much”.
Joe has taken small but significant steps to get the support he needs and the Complex Lives team is working with him. He is on a training course and has better mental health.
Michael, 41, has just been helped off the streets and into a flat by the Complex Lives Alliance and is receiving help to put his home together. But he lacked a washing machine and so Real Help Doncaster stepped in to provide one.
Real Help Doncaster has so far raised over £1,700 from local people and businesses and provides practical items to help people get off the street and into a safer and healthier lifestyle.
Mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones, said: “It’s great to see the first applications for support being granted, and thanks to the generosity of Doncaster people and businesses, people who are in need are getting the support they require to help rebuild their lives, no matter how small that help might seem to others, your donations are helping make a big difference.”
Real Help Doncaster is part of an initiative by Team Doncaster partners, including the police, health agencies and the council, to tackle issues of homelessness, addiction, anti-social behaviour, crime, aggressive begging and drug dealing the town centre.
Early results show that the initiative is working well.
Along with a robust action plan to improve people’s experience of the town centre, more police officers were funded by Doncaster Council to work alongside the council’s neighbourhood and town centre teams, to patrol the town centre seven days a week from 7am to 10pm.
The joint initiative, established in September, has provided over 2,000 hours of additional police presence in the town centre, equating to over 130 hours per week or 18 hours per day.
In this short period of intense activity, over 40 people have been helped off the street into accommodation and support.
Reports to the police relating to begging have halved and anti-social behaviour has reduced by a fifth.
Due to this success, the extra patrols have been extended for another three months until the end of February 2019 thanks to another £30,000 funding from the council.
Work is also underway to better connect the courts and Crown Prosecution Service to consider sentencing that encourages attendance at treatment/rehab to break the cycle of crime, drugs, begging and anti-social behaviour, as well as looking at the support that is given to people who are released from prison with the probation service.
Better street lighting and extra clean ups are taking place alongside litter enforcement, and local businesses have joined the council in supporting events to increase footfall in the town centre.