Cllr Colleen Atkins chaired a meeting of Bedford Borough Council’s Housing Committee on Wednesday 7th September, where councillors received a report from SMART outlining the successful first year of operation of specialist accommodation to assist people at risk of homelessness.
Roger’s Court in Bedford was opened in August 2021 to provide 20 units of good quality self-contained accommodation, together with 24 hour on-site support services. The accommodation and support services are provided with the assistance of grant funding from Homes England under the Government’s Next Steps Accommodation Programme to provide accommodation for people who are sleeping rough or at very high risk of becoming rough sleepers.
The majority of residents have complex support needs, and SMART works with partners including Paths to Recovery, PBIC, Citizen’s Advice, GPs and nurses. Most people living at Roger’s Court will be accessing these specialist support services for around two years. Currently all units are occupied, with 21 people resident. Two people are now being supported to move on into other settled accommodation, others are reported to be making steady progress, with appropriate support, towards the aim of being able to eventually move on to longer-term accommodation.
The presence of on-site professional support staff has enabled any incidents of anti-social behaviour to be managed effectively and safely, with minimal impact on neighbouring residents or businesses.
Welcoming the report, Councillor Colleen Atkins, Chair of the Housing Committee and Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, Regulatory Services and Housing said; “It’s really good to hear that despite the many challenges there are successful outcomes, and some people are starting to move on into their own accommodation. I’m impressed to hear about residents’ involvement in the inhouse social activities and how they are getting help with budgeting and cooking skills.
"There is no reason for anybody to be sleeping rough in Bedford Borough; anyone at risk of becoming homeless should approach the council for help.”