Half a million pounds will be given over the next 5 years to a unique partnership of charities led by Citizens Advice in North and West Kent.

The money – from the Big Lottery Fund – will help the area’s rough sleepers and the many more who are facing eviction. It follows a doubling of rough sleepers in England since 2010, with figures suggesting an even sharper rise in Kent. * Eventually, Peer Champions will be identified from among those who have benefited from the project to become a “voice for the homeless”.

Together, the eight charities will work as a team to provide a “wrap-around” service. This will include mediation for those threatened with eviction, mental and emotional health services, debt advice and expert housing advice.

Homeless people may be assessed for housing legal aid and be signposted to a publicly funded solicitor if appropriate. The project – called PATH (Preventing Actual and Threatened Homelessness) – will be delivered by a unique partnership of charities. Led by Citizen’s Advice in North and West Kent, the partnership includes: Citizens Advice in Dartford, Porchlight, West Kent Mind, West Kent Mediation, West Kent Debt Advice, Choices (formerly known as North Kent Women’s Aid) and the Samaritans in Tunbridge Wells.

Each charity will bring its expertise to the project to tackle the multiple root causes of homelessness.

Peer Champions will be identified, trained and supported to become a voice for the homeless and to influence housing policy locally and nationally. Harry Jerman, of CANWK, said: “This funding ensures that local people who are facing homelessness have the help they need to overcome their crises. “Additional support will enable individuals to campaign on the issues that matter to them and to become champions for change within their communities.”

Citizens Advice in North and West Kent helped 131 homeless people in 2015, with a further 878 who were threatened with homelessness.

Porchlight’s rough sleeper team have found 398 people on the streets of Kent in 2015-16.

This is up from 148 in 2012-13.