One of the most basic human needs is for shelter – a permanent home that provides security, warmth, and a shield from the elements.
Most of us are fortunate that we will never experience the trauma of losing our home.
For those facing the possibility of being made homeless help is available from Ipswich Borough Council, both to try and keep your home or, if that is not possible, to help you find another one and, if necessary, offer temporary accommodation while you do.
But there are a small number of people who – for whatever reason – end up sleeping on our streets.
These are people who have usually been let down multiple times in their lives by the agencies that are supposed to help them. Many have mental health problems and drug or alcohol dependency issues. Far too many are ex-service personnel with PTSD or people who were in care or suffered abuse as a child.
Cuts in funding to mental health and drug and alcohol treatment services over the last decade have made finding help when they need it much harder.
For them, homelessness is not just a lack of housing. If they were just given a home, many would struggle to keep it without a lot of help.
That’s why we are trying a new approach in Ipswich.
We have installed eight modular units on Whitton Church Lane specifically designed for the use of people who have been living in emergency accommodation.
Each unit comprises a sleeping area, kitchen, living room, and a shower and WC. The homes are fitted with white goods and other essential items such as cutlery, plates, and bed linen. All residents have a dedicated support worker.
For the first time in perhaps years, they will have the safety and security of their own front door and a space that they can call their own.
The intention is that after a limited stay, getting used to the realities of maintaining a tenancy, residents will then be ready to move on to a permanent home and, crucially, be able to keep it.
Our hope is that this scheme will break the cycle of homelessness and lead to a real reduction in the number of people sleeping rough in Ipswich.