A HAMPSHIRE council has stepped up its fight against 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 has joined forces with housing associations, charities and police to help get more people off the streets.

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 streets.

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. 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.

Portfolio holder for housing and environmental health councillor Phil Bundy said: “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.”

A walk-in advice service is available Monday to Friday, from 9am to noon and 2pm to 4pm at the council offices in Andover and Romsey. Anyone concerned about their housing situation can contact Test Valley Borough Council’s Housing Options Team on 01264 368000 or 01794 527700.