BY TOBY PORTER
A homeless support unit has received a stamp of approval with a visit from a Government minister.
Minister for Local Government Marcus Jones visited Southwark council’s Trailblazer service, which was developed prior to the Homelessness Reduction Act becoming law in April this year.
He visited the day after the service was awarded £10,000 at the prestigious London Homelessness Awards 2017, where it was praised for its anticipation of what was required above and beyond the Act.
Trailblazer was launched in October 2016 to address the housing crisis, with successful bids for funding.
Southwark has also been commended for innovative pilot schemes and best practice which has been shared with other councils across the country – so the minister wanted to see at first hand why it has been so influential.
It has been particularly successful at preventing homelessness, especially by helping young people who find themselves on the streets because of family breakdown.
The minister heard from heads of service, who explained the peer-to- peer influence the borough has had in its best practice nationally, with 71 authorities already benefiting from Southwark’s leading example.
This has included staff training, a holistic approach to homelessness prevention and the new approach to Section 21 (notice of possession, or eviction notice). Other highlights showcased included how the borough successfully works in partnership with private landlords to prevent people losing their homes.
Mr Jones also met service users whose lives have changed for the better after using the service.
Shelter, Solace Women’s Aid and St Mungo staff were also available to talk through their work with the borough’s most vulnerable people – those who are sleeping rough, who are the victims of domestic abuse or at a high risk of losing their homes.
Councillor Stephanie Cryan, deputy leader and cabinet member for housing at Southwark Council, said: “I am immensely proud of the housing team and their commitment to helping some of the most vulnerable people in our borough. The drive to reduce homelessness will not stop at recognition from the Government, we will continue to develop and evolve our service for as long as it takes for homelessness to become history.”