A HEREFORDSHIRE man who slept rough for over 20 years has been interviewed by the BBC.

Stephen Philips sent a letter to Herefordshire Council thanking support workers for helping him get back on his feet.

Herefordshire's rough sleep support team will continue their work thanks to government funding recently secured by the council.

Mr Philips was interviewed by the BBC, which covered the issue of rural homelessness on its Breakfast show this morning (Wednesday).


The story is also expected to be covered online by the broadcaster this week.

Lee Davis, Herefordshire Council's head of prevention and support services, has secured new rounds of government funding to help teams continue their work.

He also recently received a letter from a former rough sleeper thanking his staff for their support in getting him off the streets and into a home of his own.

"The news items focus on a project on rural homelessness by Kent and Southampton universities," said Mr Davis.

Researchers interviewed Mr Philips as part of that work, and now he has also been invited to sit on a panel that discusses rural homelessness.


"This means he can continue to provide researchers with his first-hand experience of the challenges people like him face," said Mr Davies.

"I haven't yet seen the TV coverage. But I doubt it will move me as much as Stephen's letter did."

In the interview Mr Philips talks about having 'zero confidence' when he moved into one of the council's temporary shelters.

"It's a very eloquent letter in which Stephen thanks everyone who supported him away from a very bleak outlook to one where he feels he can look forward to a life of genuine optimism," said Mr Philips.

"A life without drugs and in a place of his own. Every sentence he wrote made me feel the work our teams do is worthwhile."

What is the funding

Herefordshire Council was successful in bids to secure two types of government funding that will help the county's rough sleepers.

The council's rough sleeping initiative (RSI) was awarded £2,072,329 to fund the services it provides for the three years 2022-25.

The council's bid for a rough sleeping, drug, and alcohol treatment grant (RSDATG) was also successful.

This gives the council £373,664 for 2022 to 2023 and £521,328 for 2023 to 2024 to fund support services.

How funding will be used

The department for levelling up, housing and communities' (DLUHC) money will be used to fund new and existing staff members as well as several new services.

This will allow the existing, three-strong outreach team to continue to work with the county's rough sleepers and those likely to be homeless when leaving hospitals and prisons.

The team will get support from a translator service to help them communicate with people who don't have English as their first language.

An RSI coordinator will also be appointed to work with the outreach team and partner agencies and groups to deliver the council's Project Brave/ Breaking the Cycle initiatives, designed to help rough sleepers.

An additional Talk Community team member will help identify those at risk of losing their home. The new team member will work with clients and, where possible, their landlords or ladies to minimise the likelihood of this happening.