Personal budgets have helped entrenched rough sleepers into accommodation or treatment in a pilot scheme in North Devon and Exeter.
Interim results, revealed at a Homeless Link conference yesterday, showed that a personalised approach worked for all but one of the 14 men, who had been living rough for between three and 20 years.
Each was given multi-agency support and a care co-ordinator to manage a budget to buy in services to help them into accommodation.
Nine had moved into accommodation, three others were engaging with the service team and one other client was in prison, although he was co-operating with the team through an in-reach service and was due to attend a detox centre in Bristol on release.
Contact has been lost with the final client who had disappeared from Exeter city centre, having been served with an antisocial behavioural order.
The scheme has been co-led by Exeter and North Devon councils and the local NHS. It has been funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government and Supporting People.
Co-ordinator Nicola Glassbrook said: “For a lot of the clients the money wasn’t important. What was important was having the time to engage with them and spend quality time with the client and get to understand them.
“What’s also important is that people who spend a long time rough sleeping have poor self-esteem. So some money was spent directly on clients to make them feel better.”
The results also suggested a need for more flexible floating support and outreach services to cater for this client group and for community-based mental health services to provide greater priority to them.
The pilot, one of four personal budget pilots for rough sleepers being tested, began in last October, was independently evaluated in March and will end in July.
One of the other projects is being run by the homelessness charity Broadway in central London and has found similar success.
In both projects clients were offered a designated care co-ordinator of their choice who would ask what they needed to help them off the streets.
This could be a mobile phone to keep in contact with friends or family, a spare set of clothes or beauty treatment.
Clients in the Broadway project were allocated budgets averaging £3,000, while in Devon they averaged £2,500, though these depended on the client’s needs.