Kent County Council (KCC) has joined forces with several major providers of homelessness support to create a fairer, more accessible and consistent service for vulnerable people.
Following a competitive tender process, KCC has awarded homelessness charity Porchlight the contract to deliver support services in East and Mid Kent, while housing association and care provider Look Ahead has been awarded the contract for North and West Kent.
Similarly, in line with the council’s corporate parenting duty, new contracts were also awarded to Look Ahead, Sanctuary Supported Living and YMCA Thames Gateway to lead on the delivery of support services focused on homeless care leavers and 16/17-year-olds.
Each organisation will be leading a network of other homelessness support providers in their areas and working with KCC to develop services and provide a wrap-around approach to supporting homeless individuals.
This may include help with tenancies, managing finances and accommodation.
Contracts were also awarded to several other organisations who will form that network, allowing them to bid to deliver elements of the service on behalf of the lead contractors through a framework agreement.
Graham Gibbens, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health said: “Kent County Council seeks to improve the lives of all Kent’s residents and provide the best possible support to those that need it.
“This new approach to integrating homelessness support services will ensure that there is consistency of service across the county, which is better able to address needs, helping to improve outcomes for homeless individuals.”
Roger Gough, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People & Education, added: “These new services will give some of the most vulnerable young people in our communities the support they need in safe, appropriate accommodation, allowing them to achieve independence and access education, training and employment opportunities.”
KCC previously commissioned supported housing, outreach for rough sleepers and floating support, to enable residents to avoid or recover from homelessness, separately, through 29 contracts with various organisations across Kent.
Differences in provision meant there was a ‘postcode lottery’ whereby individuals in certain areas did not always receive the same level of support across the county.
Homeless people with support needs will now benefit from more flexible, tailored, recovery-focused provisions, which respond to their needs, and a service able to deliver joined-up community support to clients, regardless of their level of risk and need.
Porchlight’s Chief Executive Mike Barrett said: “It’s a great opportunity for us to harness our wealth of experience in helping people turn their lives around through specialist housing and support.
“We’re looking forward to working with our partners to help even more people off the streets and ensure that they never have to return.”
The launch of the new service comes following a public consultation between January and March, in which the council spoke to members of the public and organisations who work with the homeless population.
Events were held at libraries, Gateways, community hubs and day centres across the county and KCC staff met with vulnerable homeless people who not using services now to better understand the barriers they face.
The council received 265 responses to the consultation with most strongly in favour of an integrated service.
Guy Robinson, Look Ahead’s Director of Housing and Support, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed as one of the lead strategic partners for the delivery of all homelessness and young people’s services across Kent.
“We already provide some services in Kent and are looking forward to working alongside local partners to expand this work to support up to 500 people a year on their journey to independence.”
David Pepper, Head of Service at Sanctuary Supported Living, said: “The new agreement with Kent County Council will see us use our wealth of experience in the Kent area to deliver a flexible and integrated service for young people in the East of the county.
“We look forward to working with the council and other providers to ensure young people get the personalised support they need so that fewer face the prospect of homelessness.”
YMCA Thames Gateway’s Chief Executive David Ball said: “YMCA Thames Gateway are delighted to have been appointed as Prime Contractor for North Kent.
“We look forward to working with more young people across Dartford, Gravesham and Sevenoaks and to strengthening our relationship with KCC and the District Councils in the coming years.”
For further information about the Kent County Council Communications Office, contact 03000 422589 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes for journalists
- The statutory responsibility for housing and homelessness currently rests with twelve district and borough councils across Kent, while National Probation Service (NPS) and the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Community Rehabilitation Company are responsible for the rehabilitation of offenders.
- The council’s corporate parenting duty is the collective responsibility of the council, elected members, employees, and partner agencies, for providing the best possible care and safeguarding for the children who are looked after by KCC.
- The results of the tender process were as follows:
(Canterbury, Thanet, Dover, Folkestone & Hythe)
(Dartford, Gravesham, Swale
|Look Ahead Care and Support|
(Sevenoaks, Tonbridge & Malling, Tunbridge Wells)
|Lookahead Care and Support|
|Young People||East Kent
(Canterbury, Thanet, Swale)
|Sanctuary Supported Living|
(Ashford, Folkestone & Hythe, Dover)
|Look Ahead Care and Support|
(Maidstone, Tonbridge & Malling, Tunbridge Wells)
|Look Ahead Care and Support|
(Sevenoaks, Gravesend, Dartford)
|YMCA Thames Gateway|
|Secondary Contractors||Adults: Centra Care and Support, House of Mercy, Lifeways (West Kent Housing Association), Lookahead Care and Support, Pathways to Independence, Peabody Trust (South East), Porchlight, Rethink, Riverside, Sanctuary Supported Living, Thames Reach, The Bridge Trust, West Kent YMCA, YMCA Thames Gateway
Young People: 4CSR, Asphaleia, Bridging the Gap, Cantercare, Catch 22, Depaul UK, Ksports Management Ltd, LIFE, Lifeways (WKHA), Look Ahead, My Life, Nacro, Peabody South East, Porchlight, Salvation Army Housing Association, Sanctuary Supported Living, Social & Community Care Ltd, Urban-Care, West Kent YMCA, YMCA Thames Gateway
|Offender Services: Home Group, Pathways to Independence|