An annual audit of rough sleepers takes place across Mendip every November, but it’s hard to find all the people who are sleeping in car parks, woods or more remote locations.
It is even harder to know how many people are ‘hidden homeless’ or insecurely housed in Frome, especially when many will be wary of asking for help.
We know from the Mendip Housing Register that there are usually at least 400 households looking for housing in Frome at any one time, but it’s not clear how many of these are in immediate need.
In February 2019 we initiated the Frome Housing Survey, which engaged 120 different people in talking about their housing needs, via exhibition stands at Asda, Frome Library and other public sites around the town.
You can read a summary of our findings on the following link:
In April 2019 FHfF commissioned The Big Red Housing Bus, a vintage double-decker kitted out as an activity centre, to travel around the town for five days listening to stories of housing need and providing information and signposting about housing services.
Around 200 people visited the bus, which was staffed by volunteers and funded by the Frome People’s Budget.
Children’s activities included a smoothie bike, face painting, arts and crafts, and the opportunity to meet Emily the Homeless Elephant.
Many services used by vulnerable people – such as the Mendip YMCA, Key Centre, Somerset Drug and Alcohol Services and the CAB – are facing cuts in their funding and consequently in the housing support services they can offer, particularly on a drop-in basis.
Working with other local agencies, our next step is to carry out a research project into what services are currently available for people in housing need, whether they can meet demand, and what examples of best practice we can draw on from elsewhere.
When we have this information, we will be in a position to make further decisions on how to respond to the needs of homeless people in Frome.