Rise in demand for service to help vulnerable people

A PROJECT designed to help prevent homelessness among vulnerable people in 1066 Country and the rest of East Sussex has seen an upsurge in demand for its services amid the ongoing recession.

Home Works was launched in 2009 to work with people aged 16 to 64 in their homes and help them address issues putting their housing at risk.

In two years, 1,814 people have been supported in Hastings out of more than 5,500 people across East Sussex, including 1,786 in Eastbourne, 952 in Lewes, 689 in Wealden and 600 in Rother.

But during the past 12 months demand for support has risen significantly.

The biggest rises have been among vulnerable young people, aged 16 to 24, including young parents, who are facing homelessness, sleeping on friends’ sofas, known as sofa surfing, or setting up home for the first time.

Commissioned by East Sussex County Council, the project is run by Southdown.

Neil Blanchard, executive director of operations at Southdown, said: “Referrals for young people not in work, education or training have increased by 86 per cent, which is consistent with the developing national picture of young people facing multiple challenges.

“Another major area of growth in referrals has been from families where referrals increased by 78 per cent over the last year.

“Many of these families are affected by loss of employment and/or debt problems, resulting in them contacting support services for the first time in their lives.”

Jude Davies, Supporting People Commissioner, said: “Our vision was for a new housing support service to support vulnerable people wherever they live in East Sussex and whatever their housing circumstances.

“We are delighted that Home Works is delivering this vision and benefiting so many people.”