Rough sleeping in Newcastle significantly reduced under unique four year project

Homelessness experts and former rough sleepers have praised a programme in Newcastle which has helped hundreds of vulnerable people.

Street Zero was set up four years ago to bolster services and increase support to keep people off the streets.

Its founder and volunteer chair, Bob Eldridge is now retiring, drawing the current phase of the project to an end.

However, the practices and partnerships established will continue, with the focus now shifting from housing to health.

Nearly 20 charities and organisations were brought together under the banner to connect services more closely - and pool collective efforts.

The model is now being shared with other cities as a successful framework to potentially follow.

Bob said: "Collaboration and having a citywide collective single objective are why we are here today.

"I am pleased that Street Zero partners have created the foundations for Newcastle to move closer to ending rough sleeping for good.

"Today the city is almost at a point where no one needs to sleep rough because of the accommodation and help."

The 'Street Zero' project has pooled resources and expertise across the city to tackle homelessness. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Since 2018:

  • 99 self-contained homes have been refurbished and brought back into use - with 66 more in the pipeline.

  • £3million has been raised in grants.

  • Every person found rough sleeping during lockdowns was brought into specialist accommodation.

  • An Emergency Fund was established to support people transitioning from the streets.

Former rough sleeper Vincent Ellesmere's ode to new home Bentinck Terrace:

Housing has been a big focus, and accommodation called Bentinck Terrace has played a part in the overall success.

It's owned by the charity Changing Lives and offers individual apartments to help ease people back into society.

This is a different approach to the more standard hostel-style housing and project leaders say residents are reacting very well to this environment.

Vincent Ellesmere is an ex rough sleeper who currently lives at Bentinck Terrace. He has praised the set-up and the staff.

Neil Munslow from Newcastle City Council said despite successes, officials will not get complacent when it comes to the issue of homelessness.

He said: "Of course, it is a considerable challenge to end rough sleeping in a major city because the causes of rough sleeping are numerous, complex and can manifest themselves at any time.

"We're grateful to Bob for doing so much to help meet this challenge under the banner of Street Zero.

"Despite our city's relative success in tackling homelessness, we are never complacent and seek to find ways to prevent people from ending up on the streets.

"With the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, it's a challenge that I expect will only get harder."