ROUGH sleepers could be given access to mobile phones and travel expenses after an almost £1million boost to homeless spending.

It is hoped the measures will help them make appointments and secure accommodation and support in order to get them off the streets.

Southend received more than £400,000 in June and has been promised £513,000 next year.

Rather than hand out cash or vouchers outreach workers will be able to purchase those things necessary to help a homeless person to move on with their lives.

This may include paying for transport so that an appointment is not missed, a cheap phone to enable the person to contact relevant bodies and support services, or a night’s stay in a B&B if no alternative accommodation can be found in the short term.

Some of the funds will also be used to enhance services such as charity HARP (Homeless Action Resource Project) and church winter night shelters.

Del Thomas, who runs Off the Streets night shelter, said: “I’m really pleased to see this after the previous lot of funding.

“I was really excited about the projects the council has planned with it and I do think it will make a huge difference to the town’s rough sleepers.

“My concern is when the money runs out.

“We get all these fantastic services to make a difference, but they hang off a cliff edge.

“We are opening our night shelter next week.

“We currently have ten beds, but we are working hard with Haro and others to keep our shelter going.

“The council deserve every credit for putting this bid together as they often get slammed.

For the bid to be the 12th highest in the country [and highest in the east of England] is fantastic.”

Part of the new fund will go towards increasing the rent deposit scheme just for rough sleepers.

Rent deposit schemes are currently offered to those who are unable to put a deposit down on a property because of having little to no income.

Help will also be available for those at risk of homelessness to help secure tenancies and stop them ending up on the streets again.

Zoey Smith, OneLove night shelter volunteer, wants to see more spent on the mental health side of homelessness.

She said: “I really think there needs to be more emotional support for the homeless. A lot of them will go into a room or property and instantly feel isolated and lonely where they are used to being in a community when they are on the streets, as well as feeling daunted about having to paying bills and maintain a tenancy.

“It’s a huge amount of money to be secured which is great, but it needs to be spent wisely and in the right places.

“There are not enough night shelters or beds, so once winter kicks in there’s a hell of a lot of people on the streets so there needs to be more emergency accommodation. Hopefully the new outreach officers do actually engage with the homeless because they often feel unable to talk to authority. Jackie Bliss, Harps chief executive, said: “Harp’s share of this additional funding will allow us to work more intensely with rough sleepers and is a big step in the right direction towards helping some of the town’s most vulnerable people.”