Almost a quarter of a million pounds in funding has been secured by Southend Council to help homeless people regain their independence.

The council successfully bid for just under £250,000 of additional funding from central Government to allow them to employ six support staff and pay the costs of helping homeless people move out of emergency accommodation.

The new staff will include be four ‘navigators’ who will be made a point of contact for former rough sleepers and two who will give support to people with a history of homelessness by helping them with tenancies.

Glyn Halksworth, interim director for housing, said: “The two new posts will help maintain independence and avoid further periods of homelessness or rough sleeping and the four navigators will be the single point of contact, checking in with physical and emotional support to help former rough sleepers.

“That ongoing contact also gives navigators the opportunity to spot any issues early and signpost clients to the right service to seek specialist help, a vital part of supporting those with complex needs move away from rough sleeping.”

The new support will join a series of initiatives introduced in Southend to tackle rough sleeping and homelessness under their new housing strategy.

It includes campaigns that advise people the best way to give money to help the homeless, providing support to people to avoid homelessness and last year’s launch of the community partnership team, which patrols the High Street and helps homeless people get access to support services.

The council hopes to bolster the partnership team’s powers by bringing in a controversial Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) later in the year, allowing them to bring fines of up to £1,000 against people sleeping in public if they are “causing an obstruction” or having a “detrimental impact” on others.

But human rights group Liberty has called the PSPO plans “unlawful and unreasonable” and warned it could be challenged in the High Court.

Government figures published in February claimed Southend was one of the most improved areas for homelessness in the country, suggesting that just 11 people were sleeping on the streets.

The data was later criticised after it was revealed that it had been based on a count conducted over a single night.

Leading Southend charity Harp said they helped 1,206 people who were either homeless or at risk of homelessness last year and a study from homeless charity Shelter said as many as 480 people were considered homeless.