Stroud District Council has one of the best records in preventing homelessness according to statistics released by the government.
The Homes & Communities Agency’s latest map shows that the district is the most successful in the region in preventing homelessness, and is in the top 20 local authorities nationally.
Homeless prevention manager Phil Bishop says the success is down to his team’s efforts in early prevention:
"The earlier we get notice that someone is in trouble and can start to help them, the more chance we have of preventing a case of homelessness," he said.
Initiatives by the Stroud team include offering a free mediation service called Resolve, in conjunction with Gloucestershire Counselling Service.
"This service is available free of charge to anyone who is having problems or feeling insecure about their home situation,” explained Phil. “It has been successful for couples who were undergoing a relationship breakdown, and families who were having problems coping with a teenage child. Counselling can, and has, prevented homelessness by helping families resolve their differences and stay together."
People can request the service through the council’s homeless prevention team themselves, or are referred by health care agencies, including family centres and doctors surgeries.
The team has adopted a proactive approach in promoting its services. Members attend drop-in sessions at local food banks and P3, a charity which helps socially excluded and vulnerable people.
"By the time many people seek help it’s often too late,” said Phil, “but by actively going out into the community and speaking to people in financial difficulties we have many more options available to help them, with a higher success rate."
Anyone who thinks they may need housing advice can find information on the Stroud District Council website www.stroud.gov.uk/housing/homelessness, and on the Facebook page `Stroud District Council – Housing Help’