A GAME-CHANGING homelessness service has prevented 38 of the county’s rough sleepers from returning to the streets in the last year.

Worcestershire Housing First, which is run by the city’s St Paul’s Hostel, has so far helped 38 homeless people move off the streets and stay in accommodation.

The service, which was set up in February last year, currently has a 100 per cent success rate with nobody housed using the service so far returning to rough sleeping.

Jonathan Sutton, chief executive of St Paul’s Hostel, said the service has helped house and turn round the lives of some of the city’s most complex and difficult rough sleepers including one person who has spent 25 years in and out of addiction, prison and rough sleeping who has now managed to hold his own tenancy for more than a year.

Mr Sutton told Worcester City Council’s communities committee on Wednesday (July 21) that he believes the success of the scheme in Worcestershire will put the county at the front of the queue when it comes to more government funding in 2023 and beyond.

Housing First is based on the concept that a person sleeping rough should be offered a permanent home as soon as possible with support provided for as long it is needed.

It differs to other types of support that see rough sleepers go through different types of temporary accommodation in order to prove they are ‘tenancy ready’ before moving into a home.

The service currently costs around £250,000 a year and is paid for until March 2023 through a patchwork of sources including government funding, council cash and business rates.

Cllr Louise Griffiths heaped praise on the service for its “amazing” work and said managing to do it during a pandemic was “nothing short of miraculous.”

She said it was “staggering” to see certain people in the city receiving help and rehabilitation from the service.

“Housing First works. It works in the UK, in Europe and it works in the US. It’s something that we need to look at more seriously to look at reducing homelessness and reducing rough sleeping.”