The average length of stay at a Torquay homeless hostel has been reduced by 50 per cent in just six months after Torbay Council took over running it.
The council took over management of Leonard Stocks Centre, Torquay’s purpose-built homeless hostel, as an additional step in its goal to end street homelessness.
As the council further develops its strategy to move people from sleeping rough to settled accommodation and a chance to reclaim their lives, it says giving residents a pathway from the streets to their own homes is its goal.
Torquay’s first hostel for those facing homelessness in Factory Row opened its doors on Christmas Eve 1990 and the existing centre opened in 2008.
Until earlier this year, the centre was managed by a charity, but the council decided it was best placed to bring together a wider network of partners to help people who were homeless.
Since the council took over in February, the average length of stay has fallen by more than 50 per cent and people have been supported to move to long-term homes of their own – the council’s ultimate goal.
The centre has 29 single rooms, and it is permanently at full capacity. It has on-site support 24 hours a day.
There are never fewer than six people on the waiting list – in July 2023 more than 30 people were living on the streets of Torbay.
Only those with a connection to Torbay can be housed at the hostel – meaning they must have lived in the Bay for three of the last five years, be employed here or have a close relative living here.
Councillor Hayley Tranter, Cabinet Member for Adult and Community Services, Public Health and Inequalities, said: “We are very sympathetic to anyone who is going through homelessness,” she said.
“People think that homelessness is what they see outside the hostel and around Castle Circus. This isn’t the case and the majority of people that congregate in the area are not homeless.
“But it’s much deeper than that. Those people have their own needs, and we want to do all we can to help them.
“We don’t want to criminalise people; we want to get them connected to the right services within the Bay to prevent them resorting to crime or becoming victims – this will reduce local crime rates and reduce the tax burden on local residents.”
When the council took over the hostel some residents had been here for five years and it was felt the service needed to operate differently.
The council wanted the hostel to be an ‘off-the-street’ offer, a place that people can move into, get the help they need to recover and then move on to a home of their own.
It also wanted to take more seriously the issues relating to residents being antisocial – although not all anti-social behaviour in the area is caused by hostel residents.
Residents are evicted when necessary, which helps support others living at the hostel.
The council is encouraging residents to fully engage with services and get the support they need to overcome the challenges they face.
It is also working closely with other partners, such as the Police, to address wider anti-social behaviour in the area that is not associated with the hostel and is often wrongly connected to it.
You can find out more about life at the hostel and hear the stories of two residents here: https://www.torbay.gov.uk/safer-torbay/castle-circus-and-harbourside-improvement-programme/leonard-stocks-centre/
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