Lyndhurst Road Update
Worthing Churches Homeless Projects (WCHP) acknowledge there have been some settling in issues with the new temporary accommodation for homeless men and women in Lyndhurst Road, Worthing. WCHP have been and will continue to work closely with councillors and local residents in the neighbourhood to listen to issues raised with a view to addressing concerns.
Whilst WCHP are considerate of both the positive and negative impact a residence for homeless individuals can have on an area, the project at Lyndhurst Road has only been operational for a couple of months and WCHP would therefore like to encourage patience and understanding during this initial phase. Sadly, but to some extent understandably, residential services offering support for the homeless or care in the community often provoke concern and animosity from surrounding residents and businesses. In WCHP’s experience, of opening nine residences for homeless and rough sleepers in West Sussex, the opening of a project often initially provokes negative reactions. However, months further into the projects, when initial fears subside, positive relations are fostered and trust is established between residents, businesses, councillors etc and those previously at risk living on the streets now have an opportunity to turn their lives around.
WCHP have proactively welcomed local residents to gain insight and understanding with regards to the project in the hopes to dispel any misunderstandings or fears people may have. Those managing the project at Lyndhurst Road are extremely experienced and adept to run the service and wish to reassure members of the public that there are safeguarding procedures and vigilant policies adhered to in managing a project of this nature. Additionally, a local action team has been set up consisting of representatives from the police, council officers and members of WCHP staff from the project to address the concerns. It is essential that should there be any criminal behaviour in the vicinity these are reported directly to the Police. The Police will then work with the appropriate authorities and individuals to identify the legitimacy of the report. This will inevitably lead to prosecutions of illegal conduct, but it will also confirm actual versus perceived crime.
The need for Lyndhurst Road is increasingly apparent as homeless and rough sleeper numbers continue to escalate, and the service has received over 100 referrals since opening its doors. For many of the residents at Lyndhurst Road they will be given the safety and security of a roof over their heads for the first time in years. Whilst there they will have access to specialist support around their physical and mental health and wellbeing. Each resident is assigned a key worker who closely supports them on a one to one basis, helping them see what they may like to change in their lives. Other external professionals such as social workers, mental health specialists and substance misuse workers also attend the project to support the residents with complex and multiple needs. WCHP staff are also experienced and adept at dealing with the project’s clients and have a range of backgrounds including HM Prison service, Mental Health, Social Work and the Police. At any one time there can be up to 9-12 staff in the service but there will never be less than two.
Upon moving into the project residents are made aware that they need to adhere to certain rules and regulations in order to secure their stay. If these are contravened their residence could be terminated. Project workers specifically work alongside residents to enable and ensure rules are adhered to and behaviours are within acceptable parameters. If you have lived on the streets for years those parameters have been eroded and living with rules can be challenging but it is consistently encouraged both within and outside of the project to be mindful of what is acceptable behaviour in a residential setting.
With the intention to reassure the community, WCHP wish to be transparent regarding the reports and concerns raised in the vicinity of Lyndhurst Road whilst affirming the responses and procedures they have in place to prevent issues in the future.
Neighbours in the vicinity have been provided with a 24/7 telephone number and a direct email which goes direct to staff at the project so they can deal with any issues promptly and according to protocol.
Other additional measures in place in relation to issues and concerns include the following:
- WCHP complete regular staff patrols around the area to disperse groups.
- The no visitor rule has been extended to include the grounds surrounding the project.
- WCHP have requested that police patrols are increased should reports of criminal or anti-social behaviour deem it necessary.
- Residents are required to meet friends off site and are not permitted to visit the project.
- Any resident shouting or banging doors are spoken to by their key worker to ensure they understand the negative consequences to other residents and the community.
- The metal gate had caused some disturbance when being shut late at night. This gate is no longer used by the project. l
- As with any sizeable building it is difficult to hear noise disturbances at all times. The 24/7 telephone number will be responded to by staff and immediately inform them of disturbances. Once reported staff will deal with the matter promptly and continue monitoring.
- Any drug dealing witnessed should be reported to the Police by calling 999.
- Those residents who have addictions are in receipt of regular specialist support via CGL (the local drug agency).
- Police have confirmed there was a drug issue in the Lyndhurst Road area before this project opened. Unfortunately, with a project of this type, vulnerable individuals often attract people who prey on the vulnerable.
- Neighbours who observe any drug dealing within the grounds of the project are encouraged to report it to the police but also telephone project staff immediately so it can be investigated quickly. The project has CCTV in and around the building to corroborate any sightings and if it is proven evidentially that a resident has been dealing they would instantly lose their tenancy.
- It is hoped that increasing police patrols should dissuade drug dealers from targeting this area.
- WCHP and Worthing Homes, who also run a nearby block of flats, have met to discuss how they could work together on the issue and have agreed measures to take.
- WCHP will continue to report to the police any activity which is suspected to be related to the supply of substances. WCHP work closely with the police and regularly keep them updated of any intelligence.
- WCHP staff work closely with the local shop, reviewing CCTV footage of suspected shoplifters. If any shoplifters are identified as residents of WCHP, WCHP co-operate fully with the police investigation. It should be noted that there have been several instances of shop lifting and on only one occasion a resident of Lyndhurst Road was involved. The Deputy Manager of Lyndhurst Road visits the shop weekly to discuss any concerns and how to address these.
- Any reports of anti-social behaviour are dealt with quickly and appropriately. Keyworkers continue to emphasise to residents the negative effects certain behaviours have on others and provided with clear suggestions and instructions on how they may improve. If there are any serious cases of anti-social behaviour the police would of course be notified and involved.
WCHP hope to encourage a tolerant and patient approach in the coming months and wish to assure the community residing in and around Lyndhurst Road that measures have been and will continue to be taken to address any concerns. Providing rough sleepers with safe and secure accommodation, without prejudice and condemnation has been shown to be the most effective way to tackle homelessness. Through the provision of stability and understanding at Lyndhurst Road residents are turning their lives around. In just a few months six individuals have moved on from the project and secured longer term accommodation. Residents are making real changes to their lives, they are finally engaging with agencies to access the support and help available to them. One resident stated: “I genuinely don’t think I would be as ready to start moving forward as I am without all of your help and support”.
WCHP have and will continue to take appropriate actions where necessary and will always work closely with residents, councillors, police, local authority and other agecnies to ensure the safety of both the residents of the project and those in the surrounding areas.
If a member of the public has any concerns, feedback or observations in relation to Lyndhurst Road please email: email@example.com – all emails will be responded to within two working days.
If the enquiry is of an urgent nature phone: 01903 680740 ext. 283 to speak to the team at Lyndhurst Road.