Council reaches out to residents with homelessness Q&A

Facebook users in Swindon were this week given a glimpse into the work Swindon Borough Council does to help homeless people and rough sleepers.

Published: Thursday, 9th January 2020
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In a fresh and innovative approach to communicating the Council’s work, residents were invited to take part in a special Q&A session in which they could ask Council officers anything at all about homelessness in Swindon.

Three Facebook posts were published on the Council’s account across three days and peoples’ questions were answered as fully and as honestly as possible on Tuesday (7 Jan).

Homelessness is a subject about which many people care deeply and the Council wanted to take the opportunity to explain to residents exactly what services are on offer to people facing housing difficulties.

More than 30 questions were submitted over the course of the three days and officers did their very best to give helpful and constructive answers.

Questions were asked about how people facing housing difficulties are prevented from becoming homeless in the first place. This makes for a substantial degree of the Council’s work and is largely unknown because it can’t always be seen.

Officers explained how they liaise with landlords or family members to find solutions to peoples’ housing problems and make them aware of any benefits they are entitled to. It was also noted that people will be helped to address any outstanding rent arrears and, if necessary, to set up a rent repayment plan.

People expressed their thanks for being given the opportunity to ask questions and one Facebook user even enquired about donating items to Swindon Night Shelter, the charity that runs the Temporary Winter Housing scheme.

Councillor Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “We always strive to be as open and honest with residents as possible, and we thought the Facebook Q&A would be a good way of engaging with people and helping them to get a better understanding of our homeless provision.

“I would like to thank everybody who submitted a question and I hope we were able to answer it to their satisfaction.”

The Council’s Homeless Strategy consultation went live in December and is open until Monday, 16 January 2020.

The Strategy sets out the Council’s vision for helping people right across Swindon who face homelessness, including those who are sleeping on the streets.

To comment on the Strategy, log on to https://www.swindon.gov.uk/info/20019/consultations_and_surveys.

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