NORTH Devon Council's work to help rough sleepers has been praised by a national organisation for the prevention of homelessness. Homeless Link is recommending that other agencies use it as a good example for tackling the problems associated with rough

NORTH Devon Council's work to help rough sleepers has been praised by a national organisation for the prevention of homelessness.Homeless Link is recommending that other agencies use it as a good example for tackling the problems associated with rough sleeping and homelessness.In 2007, the council identified 31 people sleeping rough in North Devon, predominantly in the Barnstaple area. Of these, 20 were sleeping rough every night. The aim of the strategy is to reduce this number to as close to zero as possible and improve the life chances of people who are homeless and sleeping rough.The strategy builds on the work that has already been done by the council in partnership with local voluntary agencies. This includes carrying out interviews with rough sleepers, the development of a severe weather emergency accommodation service for the area and the appointment of a rough sleeper outreach worker, based at the Freedom Centre.North Devon Council's Portfolio Holder for Housing, Cllr Andrea Davis, said: "Having to sleep rough is an event that could happen to anyone at some point in their life. It is not an acceptable option for the people of North Devon. "We are working closely with other local agencies to tackle homelessness, reduce social exclusion and help rough sleepers rebuild their lives to realise their full potential. Our rough sleeper strategy will help us to achieve this."The council provides emergency accommodation for anyone sleeping rough when the temperature is predicted to be freezing or below for three consecutive nights. This winter the council, working with the Rough Sleeper Steering Group and in partnership with Freedom Social Projects, has set up a provision for emergency accommodation with breakfast at the Freedom Centre, Howard Avenue, Barnstaple.For more information contact the council's Housing Advice service on 01271 325757, or The Freedom Centre on (01271) 321171.