Extra funding to fight homelessness in Kingston has been granted to the borough council after the deaths of two homeless men known to charities in the area.

Kingston Council (RBK) announced yesterday they had received £1.5 million in grants from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) (£733k) and the Greater London Authority (GLA) (£806k).

The funding was allocated as part of the government’s 'Next Steps' accommodation programme and the Rough Sleeper Accommodation Programme.

"We are delighted that Kingston has been awarded over £1.5m to support rough sleepers," RBK's Emily Davey said on announcing the news.

"We have worked hard to ensure rough sleepers were found safe accommodation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our staff and partners have supported some of the most vulnerable people in Kingston.

"This has been a real and devastating situation for many people in the darkest of times and we are prepared for the situation to become more challenging during the winter months," she said.

Nine rough sleepers in the borough have already been rehoused with the funding, Cllr Davey added.

The urgent need to help rough sleepers in Kingston and across the UK was starkly highlighted this month by the death of two men experiencing homelessness both linked to Kingston.

As the Surrey Comet reported previously, the first death came on the morning of November 11, when a man known to the prominent Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness (KCAH) died on the streets of Kingston.

His death was followed just days later by the passing of another rough sleeper linked to Kingston in Chiswick, on November 19.

KCAH are working with Kingston Council to best allocate the funds and help out those experiencing homelessness in the borough.

"KCAH is very excited to be involved in this new drive to support people out of a homelessness setting," CEO Matt Hatton said.

"Giving someone a home allows them to start making positive choices in their lives which they are almost powerless to do when they are experiencing rough sleeping," he added.

"Our ultimate ambition is to eliminate rough sleeping in Kingston for good. This will only be achieved through positive partnership working and community support."

Dozens of rough sleepers were found shelter during the first coronavirus lockdown with the joint efforts of RBK, KCAH and support from central government.

However, the government rolled back its 'Everyone In' policy introduced during the previous coronavirus lockdown that successfully helped such schemes house homeless people in empty accommodation such as hotels.

Charities are now urging the government to reintroduce the scheme.

One report published recently found that tens of thousands of people had been made homeless in the UK as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, despite a temporary ban on evictions.

Deaths of homeless people in England and Wales have been rising in recent years. 

According to the Office of National Statistics, in 2018 there were an estimated 726 deaths of homeless people in England and Wales, 129 (22 per cent) more deaths than in 2017 when there were 597 estimated deaths.