Westminster Council launch new Queen’s Park centre to tackle homelessness crisis

Cllr Andrew Smith opens the Bruckner Road homlessness prevention centre in Queen's Park, Picture: We

Cllr Andrew Smith opens the Bruckner Road homlessness prevention centre in Queen's Park, Picture: Westminster City Council - Credit: Archant

Westminster Council and a housing charity have launched a homelessness advice centre in Queen’s Park.

The new centre in Bruckner Street is the council’s latest move to keep the borough’s citizens off the streets.

Run in partnership with Shelter, which works on Westminster’s Trailblazer early-intervention programme, the new centre adds to the services available.

It comes after a national report from Shelter highlighted Westminster as the local authority with the fourth highest rate of homelessness in the country.

One in 30 people in the borough is homeless, with an estimated 7,900 in temporary accommodation and the highest number of rough sleepers – 217 at the last count – in the country.

Rough sleeping is thought to cluster around Westminster’s central London wards, but ward-level data was not available.

Cllr Andrew Smith, Westminster City Council cabinet member for housing and customer services, said: “We’re changing the way that we work on homelessness, stepping in before people reach crisis point.

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“Our new centre at Bruckner Street is one of the ways we’re helping vulnerable residents.

“By engaging early we’re confident we can help more people, cutting out the unimaginable pain and stress that people can go through when they lose their home.”

A spokesperson for Westminster responded to the homelessness figures by making clear the council treats homelessness and rough sleeping separately.

They added: “We spend more than any other local authority on rough sleeping and have a no second night out policy to make sure we help people off the streets as quickly as possible.

“The majority of rough sleepers have complex needs such as addiction or mental health problems which we tackle by working with the NHS and other agencies.”

The Bruckner Street centre will offer employment coaching, along with advice for those suffering with debt or landlord problems.