A VOLUNTEER who supports homeless people in Bournemouth says recent funding and initiatives to tackle rough sleeping will not deliver an “instant, overnight fix”.

The sight of rough sleepers living in a tent in the entrance to the vacant M&S store in Commercial Road serves as a daily reminder of the town’s homeless problem.

Yesterday, the Daily Echo reported on an event which saw council leaders, MPs, and charities highlight the work of the Street Support programme - an initiative launched last year to bring all the local community support in one place and to help people out of homelessness.

It followed recent announcements of additional funding for Bournemouth council to invest in housing for homeless people and increase the capacity of its rough sleeping services.

Shelley Morris, who runs homeless support group Second Chance, said: “We’re well aware of the funding that’s been given to Bournemouth council, but it won’t be an instant, overnight fix.

“Some cases of homelessness aren’t straightforward and there are complicated issues. We’re working with some of these people along with the agencies.

“The guys outside M&S say they have nowhere to go and nothing to do. Our ultimate aim is to open a day centre and link up all the services that are available to speed up the process of getting people into accommodation. There’s nothing like this in the town and we’re still seeing a lot of people on the street.”

“St Mungo’s work really hard but they can’t get everyone accommodation,” she added.

Kelly Ansell, head of housing and community enforcement for Bournemouth council, said: ‘We are aware of the issues at the former Marks and Spencer site and the council’s outreach services, including our rough sleeper team, have worked with - and achieved housing solutions for - a number of individuals.

“Meanwhile, our enforcement team are in communication with the site owners to clear the site and look at preventative measures going forward.”

David Wood, of Help 4 Homeless Veterans, said the homelessness situation in Bournemouth was “getting out of control” and more temporary accommodation is needed.

“The only way we’re ever going to sort this problem out is by building enough temporary accommodation,” he said.

“I’ve spoken to the council and made a proposition: container homes. They’re shipping containers converted into one-bedroom homes and they are stunning. They’re using them all over the country.

“I don’t understand why the council are not building them.”

As reported last month, Bournemouth council’s cabinet was recommended to approve £14.5 million in additional funding to buy housing for the homeless.

A project was started in February 2016 with the aim of buying 60 properties over three years to reduce the number of people being housed in bed and breakfasts.

In September 2017, £18.5m was provided to expand the programme, including the expansion of Morrell House, the council’s emergency hostel.

Since then, the council has bought 67 properties, providing accommodation for more than 100 people with another 11 homes being considered.

The extra £14.5m will bring the project’s total budget to £44.7m – to fund the purchase of up to 31 extra houses.