Up until this month, we had 35 beds across 9 different properties available for vulnerable people in our community. These houses are provided with additional support given by qualified and dedicated support workers. The support workers work with tenants to help them gain the necessary life skills to stand on their own. This can include anything from helping people budget properly so all their bills can be met, to assisting with returning to education and gaining qualifications for work or supporting people to stay drug and alcohol-free after completing treatment at our 13 Bed Therapeutic Community in Croscombe Barton, North Devon.

Earlier this month, we leased our 11th property and renovated it to a high standard which included purchasing and installing all the necessary furniture and facilities to turn it into a home. This additional property is now available for our beneficiary tenants and has raised the total beds available through Freedom Housing from 48 to 51.

Responding positively to rising homelessness 

The numbers of people rough sleeping and arriving on the streets is drastically increasing across the country due to a whole range of factors: a massive decline in the availability of accommodation – especially the private rental sector – plus relationship and family breakdowns and an increase in the complexity of people’s needs to name just three. In North Devon, we have such a buoyant private rental sector that landlords are able to be particularly selective with tenants, so those on benefits are generally rejected before even being able to apply for a rental lease, meaning the availability of accommodation for these people is massively in decline.

The new property, like our others, comes with extra services that enable our tenants to reintegrate and become active and positive members of our community again. This avenue for accommodation provides tenants with skills and references for future leasing and standing on their own. We find the smaller houses, the 3 – 5 bedroom places, work better for these reasons.

Working in partnership to create positive change

In North Devon, we have a strong, integrated network of organisations working together to address the problem of homelessness and rough sleeping. Through working in partnership we have been able to develop a range of accommodation solutions to cater for peoples’ differing needs. However, despite this great work numbers are still increasing so more needs to be done. We’ve shown that with funding, working in partnership with others in our area and support of the public, we can do amazing things. In addition to this work, we are delighted to be opening the Safe Sleep service at the beginning of October and being an integral part of providing a safe warm place for people to sleep during the toughest time of the year.