A NEW panel of experts is being put together by Malvern Hills District Council to develop a new approach to tackling rough sleeping.
The council has pledged to take a more rigorous approach to the issue following the deaths of two rough sleepers in the district.
The meeting in February will draw on expertise from both national and local housing, health and voluntary organisations.
The project’s aim will be to find a the best way to support rough sleepers entrenched in a life on the streets which leads to issues, including drug and alcohol addiction and mental health problems.
National homelessness charity Crisis has also agreed to be part of the panel and advice is being sought from the Government’s Rough Sleeper Unit.
Among the issues being considered by the panel will be temporary and permanent bed provision in the district and improving public reporting and education surrounding rough sleeping.
The factors which have led to increases in both local and national rough sleeping will also be examined.
Councils across Worcestershire have been invited to attend as it is recognised all areas are experiencing a rise in rough sleeping and it is an opportunity to share expertise and experiences.
The authority will look at what it is doing at the moment to support rough sleepers, see if any improvements can be made and then a plan will be put together to try out across the district.
Government support has already been sought through discussions between West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin and Malvern Hills District Council Chief Executive Jack Hegarty.
Malvern Hills District Council already works extensively to prevent homelessness and support rough sleepers.
In the last five financial years more than 800 households have been prevented from becoming homeless due to the work of the council’s housing team and CCP.
Coun David Chambers, Malvern Hills District Council leader, said: “Housing issues were already a priority for this council but the two recent deaths of rough sleepers in Malvern has brought the wider and more complex issues that surround rough sleeping into stark focus.
“We all want to see an end to rough sleeping and to achieve this we will need support from key partner agencies both locally and nationally.”