Early intervention helps fend off homelessness

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A PILOT scheme in Levenmouth to help reduce cases of homelessness saw the area’s figures fall by 38 per cent in just six months.

And the valuable services of Fife Council’s Prevention First (PF) scheme, which sees the authority working closely with other voluntary sector organisations, have now been extended across the whole of Fife.

PF’s steering group chairman, Paul Short, said it wanted to hear early on from people if they feared they may be about to become homeless.

Early intervention really was the key to helping solve the problem in many instances, he added.

The service is offered to anyone who indicates they may be homeless or are threatened with it, whatever their circumstances – be it trouble with mortgage or rent payments, relationship breakdown or difficulties with landlords.

The main aim is to prevent people from becoming homeless by helping them find achievable solutions to their problems before they lose their permanent address.

The Fife Homelessness Partnership, made up of the council, NHS Fife, housing associations and partners in the voluntary sector, assists by carrying out interviews to find the best way for people to keep their homes, explore their housing options and give advice on money matters, while they could also put people in touch with trusted landlords.

The offers of in-depth advice and support worked well in Levenmouth during the pilot project between July 2011 and January this year.

Talking with clients and explaining the choices available helped many to move from unsettled premises into a new home, before they were left without a roof over their head or needed temporary accommodation from the authority.

Mr Short, also a housing and neighbourhood team leader with the council, urged people affected by the risk of homeless to get in touch before it became too late, in terms of repossession, eviction, or if relations were so bad at home that they felt they could not return.

The scheme had been a success locally, he said, and clients had indicated they preferred this approach.

Customers can access the service by dropping into council’s local offices, by calling 08451 550033, visiting a Home4Good centre (such as Commercial Road in Leven) or contacting any of the Prevention First partners, which include Frontline Fife, Kingdom Housing Association, Glen Housing Association and Fife Key Fund (Trust in Fife), among others.