What are we doing to help people who are rough sleeping and homeless? I get asked this often, and I hope you’ve seen some of the many articles I’ve written on this already.
- Nearly £1 million Social Impact Bond (payment by results) from the government for ACTion Glos which supports entrenched rough sleepers with complex needs in the county. This started in October and now supports 18 individuals with tailored support plans across multiple agencies. This is a long-term service for people who have potentially rough slept over six times or cyclically used services for over three years so will be a longer process.
- Before the general election I met with some 20 local stakeholders from the police to council officers, charities and faith groups who support people who are rough sleeping or homeless to discuss a better way to focus local generosity into charities. You’re right that giving directly to that person can support addictions, and so in the New Year with the support of Bishop Rachel as joint patron, and proposed Chair and Trustees, I hope to launch a new alternative giving charity.
- Most recently the George Whitfield Centre was also approved as an overnight accommodation facility for up to 15 rough sleepers through the Gloucester City Mission. This will be during the severe weather in the winter that makes it particularly risky to sleep outside.
- I also worked with the DWP to bring a weekly outreach worker to the Whitfield Centre to help people with benefit issues.
- P3 Outreach team responds to Streetlink reports and looks for street sleepers in hotspots. They talk to people and help them get the accommodation and support they need in the short term or help them reconnect people with friends or family or to their district/county of origin. Greensquare and P3 Outreach are commissioned by the county council to deliver community based support, which works with sofa surfers, as well as people in tenancies
- The police are part of the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) and proactively look for homeless people and liaise with P3 Outreach team/councils/Emergency Duty team
- CGL (substance misuse service commissioned by the county council) has a dedicated street outreach worker and the Time to Heal team work with homeless people in the GRH too
- The Homeless Healthcare Team (commissioned by the county) provides specialist physical and mental healthcare (from the George Whitfield Centre)
- There are faith groups and volunteer community support (VCS) groups who do outreach (soup runs etc)
- Generally, people are expected to make their own way to shelters (most of which is close to the city centre: but travel tokens are available where necessary). P3 can take an individuals with particular needs by car. In exceptional circumstances where communal SWEP accommodation isn’t suitable for their own or others’ safety (or because of dogs) or if all places are filled, then individuals will be placed in hotels.
- The Homeless Reduction Bill will place a new duty on councils to support homeless people from April 2018 with the government providing an additional £11.7 million for local authorities, taking the total to £72.7 million to fund the administrative costs of the new duties.
- The Government is also spending over £550 million to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in England by 2020 following the 2015 Spending Review. This includes: increasing central funding to tackle homelessness to £149 million; protecting homelessness prevention funding for local authorities at £315 million; and providing £100 million for at least 2,000 low cost accommodation places, for rough sleepers leaving hostel accommodation and domestic abuse victims and their families moving on from refuges.