Homeless assessment centre opens in West Lothian

Councillor George Paul
Councillor George Paul

A new £2.3 million centre which provides a first point of call for customers at risk of homelessness has officially opened in Blackburn, West Lothian.

With the overall aim of reducing incidents of homelessness throughout the region, the Homeless Assessment Centre is a significant addition to West Lothian Council’s portfolio of homeless accommodation and can accommodate up to 58 people, including couples, families and single people.

Staff within the centre will be able to respond to customers requiring immediate accommodation out of hours. The centre is the first point of contact for homeless assessments and staff are on hand to provide 24 hour advice and assistance, seven days a week.

Residents are also allocated a support worker who will give advice, support and guidance on housing options, assistance to maintain tenancy, support with claiming benefits and emotional support to residents in times of difficulties.

West Lothian has one of the fastest growing populations in Scotland which places huge demand on the council to provide accommodation. Demand for affordable accommodation, including council housing, is high in West Lothian which is reflected in the numbers of people experiencing homelessness.

West Lothian Council is building more council homes than any other council in Scotland to help combat the demand for affordable housing and have increased temporary accommodation, which has enabled the council to accommodate more households than before.

Executive councillor for services to the community, George Paul, officially opened the Assessment Centre last week.

He said: ”Homelessness is an issue that can affect people from all backgrounds and of all ages. It is a dreadful and often desperate situation for anyone who finds themselves without a home and West Lothian Council is committed to preventing incidents of homelessness.

“Demand for affordable accommodation is very high and when incidents do occur it is vital that people are offered accommodation and the support they need to get themselves back onto their feet. The new Assessment Centre in Blackburn will help to support and accommodate a high number of people over the years to come, delivering suitable accommodation, advice and support at first point of contact in order to ensure successful outcomes for people experiencing homelessness.

“I’d like to thank our Homeless Network Group and also acknowledge the support received from the local community throughout the construction of the project.”

Alistair Shaw, head of the council’s housing, customer and building services, added: ”We are delighted that the new Assessment Centre is now officially open.

“I’d like to thank all staff who have played an important part in the centre’s development to date.

“We have a highly motivated and skilled workforce who work with people experiencing homelessness and who always do their very best to deliver positive outcomes for those in need.

“Finally, the council would encourage those at risk of homelessness to approach us at the earliest opportunity in order that we can assist them either to remain in their current accommodation or help them find alternative accommodation.”

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