A HAMPSHIRE council has launched new partnerships as part of a scheme aimed at tackling homelessness.

Test Valley Borough Council has marked six months since the launch of a £100,000 pilot scheme to reduce the number of people sleeping rough across the borough.

Now the authority said to have identified key successes on top of its existing work that would otherwise not have been possible without the additional investment.

Leader of Test Valley Borough Council Phil North, has reiterated his commitment to ensuring the council will offer emergency accommodation before anyone has to turn to the street.

The authority has also reached agreement with Aster Housing Association, Two Saints, Hampshire Constabulary and Hampshire County Council to begin incrementally piloting ‘housing first’ approaches in the area.

This will mean prioritising accommodation before assessing other issues that may have contributed to any housing need to begin with.

As part of the initiative the council has also teamed up with charity Unity to provide a ‘link worker’, who supports people in need to access different services that are available.

Portfolio holder for housing and environmental health councillor Phil Bundy said: “The council is determined to continue to do all we can to help those in need, using a positive and proactive approach.

“These new partnerships and innovative approaches to tackling the issue of homelessness are helping us break down important societal barriers. Almost 80 per cent of our customers are now assessed using a new approach that looks at wider issues that might contribute to people’s housing need.

“We are focusing on people’s strengths and personal aspirations, rather than simply taking an interest in support-needs and risk. The council’s aim is to support people to increase their confidence and self-reliance, and we are reaching out to wider partnerships to make this happen."

The authority has also invested in pre-tenancy training provided by the Yellow Brick Road Project, to help improve people’s prospects of being offered accommodation by landlords.

"I am grateful for the ongoing backing from our partners as we strive to deliver increasingly holistic support for the people coming to us for help," councillor Bundy added.

A walk-in advice service is available Monday to Friday, from 9am to 12pm and 2pm to 4pm at the council offices at Beech Hurst, Andover, and the Former Magistrates’ Court in Romsey.

Anyone concerned about their housing situation can contact Test Valley Borough Council’s Housing Options Team on 01264 368000 or 01794 527700.