Two members of the Trustee Board of Maidstone Homeless Care attended a consultation at the Kent Library and History Centre on Thursday 12th May regarding the decision to stop funding the Kent Homeless Connect service. The contract runs out on 30 September 2022, cutting £2.5m in 2022 and £5m annually each year after that. This decision could put our services as a charity at risk.
Maidstone Homeless Care is a charity that has provided vital support to homeless people for the past 35 years. We are, and will always be, committed to supporting the rough sleeping and vulnerable community in Maidstone. Since we lost our funding from KCC in 2019, we have been reliant on local donations from the community, which has allowed us to continue to deliver vital interventions to those who need us. With further proposed funding cuts to the homelessness budget, we would expect to see a dramatic increase of individuals requiring our support and depending on how the proposed cuts are managed, that impact could be felt almost overnight.
Our food bank has already seen the effects of the cost of living increase with a monthly average of 314 food parcels being issued to those who need it since the beginning of 2022. Without significant support, Maidstone Homeless Care may be put in a position where we are unable to continue to offer the vital 1:1 support work with our homeless client group as the need to provide respite care would have to become our primary objective.
Our key support services are delivered via our vibrant Day Centre in Knightrider Street, which is leased from Riverside who run Lily Smith House next door, a facility which provides 42 people, 24 hour high dependency support to meet their needs.
If KCC decided to decommission the services currently being delivered by Porchlight, Look Ahead and Riverside, there would be a potential impact that the buildings currently owned / occupied by those services would need to be sold. As we lease a space in Lily Smith House (Riverside owned property), our current base in Knightrider Street may be at risk, meaning that the services we currently deliver may end.
Our Day Centre is a key community resource that links a wide range of statutory, NHS and voluntary services together to meet the needs of homeless people. The proposed cuts are taking place during a cost of living crisis that is having a significant impact by increasing demand month by month.
MHC has responded to the consultation, but we are asking you to support us too. Please give your views and find out more at www.kent.gov.uk/homelessnessconsultation. The consultation closes on 6th June.