Finance awarded to tackle ‘alarming’ homelessness rise in Leighton

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Leighton-Linslade Homeless Service is to continue to receive financial aid from the town council as looks to expand its vital work.

In recent years the numbers of homeless people have increased at an “alarming” rate, according to the LLHS spokesman Maggie Rich.

The charity aims to help homeless people with emergency shelter and to access the professional services that can help to put their lives back together again.

Initially those in need were sleeping on the floor in St Barnabas Church Hall, but the growing demand led to trustees acquiring a seven-year lease on the Black Horse pub building in 2014.

Currently the site can sleep 18 people in shared rooms with en-suites, but later this year LLHS is hoping to expand this to cater for 20.

As well as providing overnight accommodation anbd breakfast (10pm to 8am), the building is also used to provide shelter an an evening meal from 8pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday evening clients can have an evening meal at Trinity Church from 6.30pm.

Mrs Rich said: “It is hoped that during this coming year we can persuade other volunteers to open on Saturday and Sunday evenings, from 7pm, to provide additional shelter with an earlier meal.”

On Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays the building is used for people to meet support services (mental health, CRISIS, drug and alcohol teams, probation etc). Drop-in services are provided on Wednesdays and Fridays (11am-2pm) for advice on housing/tenancies, with a lunch provided.

The service also works with the Food Bank, Salvation Army and Hockliffe Street Baptist Church, while Bassett Road Surgery has taken on the care of unregistered clients.

The charity was explaining the current homeless predicament in a bid to release much-needed grant funding from Leighton-Linslade Town Council.

In 2012 the service was approved for a town council guaranteed grant for a four-year period.

After their initial application, LLHS wasn’t asked to re-apply for the following three years, but instead asked to submit accounts annually and a report outlining how the grant funding had been used to benefit the community.

Despite reminders LLHS nothing was received in the final two years of the grant period.

Now that information has been forthcoming so the retrospective payments of £1,051 (2014-14) and £1,077 (2015-16) were approved by town councillors last week.

A council report states: “LLHS continues to provide a much-needed service in the town, requiring significant resources and relying heavily on volunteer time and partnership working in order to deliver its service.

“Concerns were expressed about the delay in compliance with grant terms and conditions, but the committee agreed it was supportive of the organisation and its work on behalf of the community.

“Assurance would be required regarding compliance before any further funding could be considered in the future.”