We provide a number of services to vulnerable people in North Devon, from free hot meals five days a week to housing advice and placements, we work to support people on their journey towards a brighter future knowing that this is not only beneficial to them, it is good for all of us.

Figures on our core services - free hot meals, attendance at our Day Centre, people assisted into housing and gym attendance are provided on our Facebook page and Twitter at the beginning of each month. In 2017, we...

  • Served 11,865 free hot three-course meals

  • Had 15,290 visits to our Day Centre

  • Helped 33.8% of people who needed homes into housing

So far this year we have served 2,929 free hot three-course meals, received 3607 visits to our Day Centre, and assisted 11 people into housing. People's issues are becoming more complex and this is impacting the way we work. A trauma-informed approach is ever more necessary and mindfulness programs are planned for the summer.

The Homelessness Reduction Act

On April 3rd, 2018 the Homelessness Reduction Act came into force in the UK. The new Act places more emphasis on early intervention to prevent homelessness and on what Local Authorities and partner agencies can do to support a person(s) in helping achieve this. Some of the key changes and what they entail are noted below:

  • In support of further emphasis on prevention, housing authorities will need to work with relevant statutory and non-statutory organisations to identify groups at risk of homelessness and develop appropriate, accessible provisions.
  • The new act extends the period in which a person can be considered to be 'threatened with homelessness'. The old act assessed people as threatened with homelessness if they were likely to lose their accommodation within 28 days, the new act extends this to 56 days, thus encouraging housing authorities to act quickly and proactively.
  • The new Act requires councils to provide personally tailored homelessness assistance to any UK citizen or person with the right to reside, regardless of priority need or intentionality.
  • All people found to be homeless and in priority need will be provided with interim accommodation.
  • Where accommodation is provided, the housing authority must be satisfied that the accommodation will be available for at least 6 months. A placement in a short-stay hostel or supported housing scheme will only be sufficient to meet the housing authority's duties to prevent or relieve homelessness when a planned pathway to ensure accommodation will continue for at least six months exists.
  • Personalised housing plans will set out steps that the individual and the housing authority must take for an individual to remain in or find suitable accommodation.
  • The Act recognises that effective prevention and relief of homelessness requires public bodies work together. As such, public bodies (Hospitals, Job Centres and Prisons for example) will have a duty to refer an individual's case (with consent) to a housing authority they identify.

Further detail on the new Homelessness Reduction Act can be found in the Government Policy Factsheets.

2017 Drug Strategy

The recent publication of the Government's 2017 Drug Strategy highlights the far-reaching impacts of drug and alcohol misuse and the ways in which they plan to tackle the problem in order to support every individual to live a life free from drugs and enjoy a brighter future for them and their families. The full report can be downloaded by following the above link and some of the key points are noted below:

  • 203,808 people received treatment for drug misuse between 2015-16.
  • In England and Wales, the number of deaths from drug misuse increased by 10.3% to 2,479 in 2015.
  • The longer someone experiences homelessness or rough sleeping the bigger the impact on their wellbeing, which in turn leads to increasingly complex needs such as substance misuse.

The 2017 Drug Strategy commits to:

  • A much greater focus on early intervention with offenders to tackle the underlying problems that contribute to their offending. For drug possession offences, the framework enables individuals to be referred to drug treatment workers who have a range of health interventions at their disposal.
  • Build and expand upon the existing services to ensure fuller integration with community mental health and substance misuse provision to provide interventions for those who are subject to a criminal justice sanction, particularly for out of court disposals, community orders and suspended sentences.

2017 Drug Strategy - Building Recovery

  • Up to £30 million has been committed to support innovative solutions focussed on tackling drug and alcohol dependence through the Life Chance Fund.
  • A further £10 million has been announced for outcome payments, including those relating to substance misuse, long-term rough sleepers or single homeless people as part of the Homelessness Prevention Programme.

Our Partners, affiliates and organisations we work with

We work with a number of different agencies and partners to provide numerous services in one spot. This means that people who come to our Day Centre are able to access a range of support providers in one visit to efficiently and easily address the issues they are facing. Agencies that provide services from our day centre include: The Rural Citizens Advice Bureau, RISE, North Devon Council, Torridge District County Council, Probation, Julian House, Pathfinders, AMBER, and Nightstop, among others.

The information used in our news items comes from our own data and other sources including the Institute for Public Policy Research, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Homeless Link, Statistical information is gathered from institutions such as the ONS, Devon Health and Wellbeing, and live tables on poverty, unemployment, homelessness, and associated issues published by GOV.uk and data.gov.uk.

Homelessness and poverty in the UK, and North Devon where we work, is a persistent problem that is yet to be solved. We believe a holistic approach with genuine caring responses, tailored one to one guidance and support for people experiencing hardship, homelessness, poverty and addiction is part of the answer for solving these issues.

Earlier this year an IPPR report found that 6,270 households were accepted as homeless in rural areas between 2015 and 2016. The report went on to state that homelessness had increased between 2010 and 2016 by as much as 52% in rural areas such as North Devon. It was this same report which recognized our work to combat rural homelessness and singled our Day Centre out as a case study for good practice, highlighting the range of services and the multi-agency partnerships available in one place that make our provision of services so effective for people in crisis.

The latest figures available show that North Devon has an unemployment rate of 2.82% - lower than the rate for the South West (3.5%) and the national rate of 4.4%

Between April and June of 2017, Shelter reports 2,567 households were living in temporary accommodation throughout the South-West as no other housing option was available. 

Contact details

For enquiries from journalists or press organisations please email [email protected] call us on 01271 321171 or use the contact form available through the link on the home page of our website.