More support available for Watford’s rough sleepers

- New central government funding provides more support to rough sleepers in Watford so they can rebuild their lives and stay off the streets.

Published: Friday, 16th August 2019
Rough sleeper outreach team
Mayor Peter Taylor, Cllr Stephen Johnson, Housing Officer Liz Smale with the new rough sleeper outreach team

The government has awarded £320k to Watford Borough Council’s and its partners recognising the positive steps they have collectively taken to tackle rough sleeping on Watford’s streets.

The funding has been used to recruit a team of new outreach workers and navigators with specialist knowledge of substance abuse and mental health issues who will deliver new and in-depth initiatives to help rough sleepers leave the streets of the town and move forward with their lives in a positive way.   The new team will be based at homelessness prevention charity New Hope who already provide a range of valuable services to rough sleepers in Watford.

The new resources will significantly boost the current rough sleeper outreach programme from 6 hours up to 70 hours a week, providing specialist support flexibly on days, evenings and weekends. Working hand in hand with the outreach team is a team of 5 navigators who will ensure that any rough sleeper who comes to them will get the specialist help they need including mental health and substance abuse services as well as housing, financial and legal support. 

Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said, ‘No one in our town should have to sleep rough. That’s why it’s so important to work with charities like New Hope, who provide invaluable support for people experiencing homelessness in Watford. These new outreach workers will make sure that anyone sleeping rough can access New Hope services and are able to transform their lives. I am determined to do all I can to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in our town.’

Rough sleeper outreach team

To receive the funding Watford Council had to demonstrate to Government its ability to move quickly and build on the excellent work already undertaken in Watford with initiatives like the Rough Sleeper Intervention Team** which provided wraparound advice and support to rough sleepers to come off the streets and the humanitarian Winter Shelter, led by New Hope with support from the council, local churches and One YMCA, which was run every night, from December to March. 

Stephen Devine of New Hope said ‘The provision of the new outreach and navigator teams means we can reach some of the most marginalised and disenfranchised individuals in Watford and help them start to transform their lives.’

The council is continuing to develop new initiatives for tackling rough sleeping in the town with its partners in the Watford Strategic Homelessness Forum***.  It is bidding for government funding to set up housing schemes in the borough to free up hostel spaces in the town by providing affordable, move on housing for former rough sleepers.  It is also developing several new strategies for housing, homelessness and rough sleeping which it will be consulting on later this year.


*The funding has been made available under the Government’s Rapid Rehousing Pathway and Rough Sleeping Initiative funding streams which have arisen out of its Rough Sleeping Strategy 2018, the aim of which is to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and eradicate it by 2027. 

** Rough Sleeper Intervention Team partners incl: New Hope, CGL Spectrum, hertsyounghomeless and Citizens Advice Watford

***Watford Strategic Homelessness Forum: Watford Strategic Homelessness Forum began in July 2016 and has met 6-7 times per year since.   Its purpose is to reduce homelessness and improve services and provision for people and households at risk of or actually homeless within the Watford Borough Council area.  The membership comprises

  • New Hope, GROW, OneYMCA, hertsyounghomeless, JobCentre Plus, Citizens Advice Watford, Watford Community Housing, Hightown, Aldwyck, the Meadowell Surgery, CGL Spectrum, Hertfordshire County Council and the Hertfordshire Partnership University Foundation Trust
  • Watford Borough Council’s Housing and Revenues and Benefits Teams and the Community Safety Partnership

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