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We worked with homelessness charity Shekinah Mission and the Torbay Ending Street Homelessness (TESH) campaign from 2016 to 2022.

Who was involved? Torbay End Street Homelessness Campaign (TESH) was jointly led by three organisations – Torbay Council, homelessness charity Shekinah Mission, and housing association Westward Housing. Many other organisations were involved including PATH Torbay,  The Haven Torbay and Torbay Street Pastors.

What happened? Torbay is a borough in Devon incorporating the three towns of Torquay, Brixham and Paignton, where rough sleeping had increased dramatically. Whilst this reflected on a national trend, Torbay showed a higher increase compared to England as a whole.

They held their first Connections Week in April 2017. 25 volunteers spoke to 29 people on the street – half of people surveyed (50%) had been on the streets for at least a year and one individual had been homeless fifteen times.

In response to the survey findings Torbay introduced steps on how they would support individuals off the streets into permanent homes, including:

  • using a single local phone number to report people sleeping on the streets;
  • entering information about people on to a single system;
  • developing Housing First for those who have been sleeping rough; and
  • using a single approach across Torbay no matter which organisation was working with an individual.

Their second and third Connections Weeks were held in 2018 and 2019 – which continued to provide valuable evidence of the need for more accommodation options for people with multiple and complex needs.

In 2018 Torbay published a Housing First Feasibility Study by the national homelessness charity Crisis, which investigated how a whole-scale introduction of a Housing First system could be introduced within the area. The Council subsequently accepted both Housing First and Rapid Rehousing as a strategic direction and provided £500,000 for two years funding for a Housing First service.

This new Housing First service began in April 2019, providing immediate accommodation and intensive support for the most entrenched rough sleepers in the city. The Housing First team included a dedicated mental health specialist. Some of the team travelled to Amsterdam to learn from Discus Housing First. Find out more in this blog.



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