Charities supporting rough sleepers in North Devon and Torridge have been backed with more funding.

Encompass Southwest and Freedom Community Alliance will see a share of a £6million government fund so they can continue to support those experiencing homelessness during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

Freedom Community Alliance will see £25,000 of funding, while Encompass Southwest has been awarded £18,000.

Claire Fisher, chief officer at Encompass Southwest, said the money would help the charity put together tailored, individualised plans to help get rough sleepers into more stable accommodation.

She said: “It will make a really big difference – we have a real opportunity now.

“This is a great opportunity to use the good will out there and try and look at individual plans for each person.

“What might be suitable for one person might not be useful for another.”

Claire said that way of working is especially important at a time when the charity has seen an increase in the number of women rough sleeping, with women tending to take different paths through homelessness.

She added: “It’s not a one-size-fits-all thing. What might be suitable for a male rough sleeper isn’t necessarily suitable for a female. We need to understand people’s individual journeys.”

While the Covid-19 pandemic has created challenges, Claire said Encompass Southwest was still able to deliver its services – albeit in a slightly different way.

“We’re still providing outreach for young people across northern Devon, and still delivering rough sleeper outreach in Torridge. We’ve been able to provide support over the phone with calls and things like Zoom.

“We’re also starting to see a real increase in a need for services. As the lockdown has gone on, relationships can break down, meaning people end up rough sleeping.”

The funding process was managed by Homeless Link, the national membership charity for frontline homelessness services.

Chief executive Rick Henderson added: “Homelessness charities that many vulnerable people rely upon have continued to provide invaluable support, despite being hard hit by the current public health crisis.

“This emergency funding will enable them to keep running their vital services, from specialist support for women, those experiencing domestic violence and young people, to providing hot meals or upskilling people experiencing homelessness – to name just a few.”