Rough sleeping in York falls from 29 to nine people in 2018

The number of people sleeping rough in the city has reduced this year from 29 to nine, following work by City of York Council and partners.

In 2017, the official number was 29, in 2016 and 2015 it was 18. Work continues to reduce this number further and help more people off the streets into safer, more stable lives.

The count this year was conducted on 21 November into the early morning the following day. That night, all known locations where people sleep out and those reported to Streetlink were visited by officers from the Salvation Army and North Yorkshire Police.

For two months beforehand, information on people who beg, people who have accommodation and those who do not, had been gathered from the city’s agencies. The agencies met after the count to evaluate that information and the people found on the night. Actually six people were found sleeping rough on 21 November, but the agencies added to the list three more known rough sleepers who hadn’t been seen that night and who were known not to have taken up accommodation. The final figure of nine was verified independently by Homeless Link.

To support more rough sleepers off the streets, the council and charity Changing Lives opened 11 extra emergency beds ahead of the winter months this year giving the city a total 29 to match last year’s number of rough sleepers. Also, a new early help and prevention hub was opened by The Salvation Army in the summer at 63 Lawrence Street where any single person without a bed for the night should visit between 10am-midday.

To help address the complex reasons underlying rough sleeping, the council has secured £193,000 for 2018/19 to provide a more targeted and innovative approach, including additional support for those with mental health issues.

Anyone who sees someone sleeping rough can ring Streetlink on 0300 500 0194. This national helpline alerts local agencies to visit the location and offer support.

We encourage people not to give cash direct to those appearing to beg, but to contribute to personalised support for genuine rough sleepers by texting YORK35 £3 – or whatever sum they’d like to give – to 70070.

Oakhaven delays – Council admits it will be Autumn 2020 before new home is completed.

Oakhaven

We reported last week that plans to provide a new elderly persons home on the Oakhaven site in Acomb (Holgate) had run into severe difficulties.

Now a Council report has revealed that the replacement facility will not open until the autumn of 2020.

That would be nearly three years after the original target date. The report offers no explanation for the delay.

Other schemes like the upgrade to Lincoln court have overtaken the Oakhaven project.

Elderly residents were decanted out of the building in 2016.

So far no planning application for the Oakhaven site has been submitted. One is not now expected until the summer.

In 2015 we said that the Council’s poor project management record could result in delays to the project.

However, no one forecast that they would be this bad.

Empty elderly persons accommodation an increasing problem in York

Oakhaven

The enthusiasm shown by the York Council in moving elderly people out of their homes is being questioned.

Some empty Elderly Persons Homes have yet to be reused

We highlighted the neglected state of Willow House last month. It has been empty for over a year.

..but this pales to insignificance when you consider what has happened at Oakhaven on York Road.

Residents moved out of the building 3 years ago.

In 2015 the Council announced that a new facility would be built there as part of a plan to provide 525 new elderly persons places “before the end of 2018”. Work at Oakhaven was timetabled to be complete with the new facility ready for occupation by May 2018.  We said at the time “Given the Council’s shambolic record on project management, we doubt if we will see any improvements much before the end of the decade”.

More than a year ago the Council said that a new facility would not open until “2019 at the earliest”.

There is still no sign of work starting.

Oakhaven site plans published earlier in the year

In February the Councils preferred operator for a new facility Ashley House – who had been appointed in March 2017 – consulted on a proposed design but nothing more was heard about the plans.

No redevelopment timetable has been published by the Council and an update report doesn’t even figure in the Councils forward plan which cover the period up to the end of March. There will be an item on the November Executive agenda but this refers only to Lincoln Court and Glen Lodge

There has been  some short term use of the buildings to house potentially homeless people but these are now well catered for by a  new building at James Street

In the meantime, the delays will mean more pressure on hospital beds as managers struggle during the winter period to find suitable accommodation into which recovering older people can be transferred.

Cashless giving supports rough sleepers to get earlier help, say charities

A new cashless giving option to support rough sleepers is being offered as an alternative to giving cash direct which can delay them getting help into safer lives.

Administered by Two Ridings Community Foundation, this easy scheme lets people donate by text to a fund which they can be confident will support genuinely homeless people off the streets and into safer and more stable lives by specialised charities.

The fund has been set up by the council in partnership with Two Ridings, which runs the York Disaster Fund. Proceeds will be shared among Changing Lives, The Salvation Army and Carecent.

These charities offer people sleeping rough immediate practical support, helps them into hostels, and then into longer term support. This includes supporting those with mental health or substance misuse issues, training and finding employment, finding a home and maintaining a tenancy.

A similar scheme administered by Changing Lives was launched in November 2016. Money raised was shared by the charities to pay for personalised support. This included paying for haircuts for those preparing for interviews; copies of identification so bank accounts can be opened and tenancies secured; a first months’ rent for a flat; and gym passes to support work to stop substance misuse and improve mental health.

People who wish to help are asked to give by texting the message YORK35 £ to the number 70070, indicating how much they wish to give after the £.

Nicky Gladstone of charity Carecent, said: “People in York are always very generous, and it just doesn’t feel right to walk past people who are begging on the streets.

“It can be hard to realise that giving money directly to people who beg can prolong their situation and discourage them from seeking the right help and support.

“If you see someone begging, give them a smile and say hello. Offer to buy them a coffee or a sandwich. And if you want to give money, then do consider donating by text to groups who can really make a difference.”

Please text YORK35 £3 – or whatever sum you’d like to give – to 70070.

Donations from the public will be shared between:

  • Carecent, a York-based breakfast centre which provides food and clothing, support and advice
  • The Salvation Army’s Early Intervention and Prevention Team in York which identifies vulnerable people on the street and, provides accommodation, health assessments and food among other services
  • Changing Lives provides accommodation and support to homeless men and women in York.

As usual at Christmastime, local services continue to provide meals and support for people who experience homelessness, including donated presents to help make the day special.

Anyone who sees someone sleeping rough can ring Streetwise on 0300 500 0194, a national helpline which alerts local agencies to visit the location and offer support.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman Report

City of York Council has apologised after being found at fault by the local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) for not providing appropriate supervision for the parents of a child in its care in hospital and for not responding to their complaint quickly enough.

The council has already fully accepted all the recommendations made by the Ombudsman.

Maxine Squire, Interim Corporate Director for Children, Education and Communities, City of York Council, said: “We are extremely sorry for the distress caused and have apologised unreservedly to the family.

“We fully accept the Ombudsman’s findings and recommendations. We have already taken action to ensure that lessons are learnt from this case and that our procedures are improved.”

The council will make a formal response to the Ombudsman on actions that have been taken after considering a report from the LGSCO at a meeting on 29 November.

The council has already carried out the following recommendations from the Ombudsman:

  • An apology has been made to the complainants for the failure to review supervision arrangements for their child and for the delays in dealing with their complaint.
  • The complainants have been paid £2000 for the distress caused.
  • The council has reviewed its policies to ensure that supervision arrangements can be made available for relatives visiting looked after children in hospital.
  • The council has contacted the out-of-area hospital and council involved in the case to develop closer working relationships for when looked after children receive treatment outside York.

The authority is currently reviewing the training needs of council officers at all levels in relation to the statutory complaints process and the handling of statutory children’s complaints to ensure that they are being dealt with in line with statutory timescales, as per the Ombudsman’s recommendations.

Copies of the Ombudsman’s report are available from West Offices, Station Rise, YO1 6GA for three weeks from 9 November until 30 November 2018 or from www.lgo.org.uk

Council launches new campaign to recruit foster carers

City of York Council is launching a new campaign to encourage people who have previous experience of working with children or young people to consider becoming foster carers.

Around 100 children and young people are looked after by foster carers at any time in York and the authority is always looking for new carers who can bring different skills to the role.

Councillor Keith Myers, the council’s executive member for education, children and young people, said: “Foster carers do an incredible job to support, care for and nurture some of our most vulnerable young people.

“Many of the young people who come into our care have faced significant challenges in their young lives, which is why people with previous experience of working with children or young people can make such good foster carers.”

Maxine Squire, Interim Corporate Director for Children, Education and Communities, said: “Foster carers are a vital part of our team to support vulnerable young people in York and we’re always looking to recruit people with new skills. If you’re considering a change, and want to put something back into your local community, I’d urge you to consider fostering in York.”

For more information on fostering in York, including the range of support given to foster carers in York, both by their peers and by the local authority, visit www.york.gov.uk/fostering or call 01904 555678

Waiting times go from nine weeks to one as new social care approach develops in York

The council’s new approach to adult social care has been given unanimous approval by customers, as the next Talking Point opens on Thursday 25 October at York Explore.

Residents needing support and help can visit social care staff at the library between 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm every Thursday, for both drop-in support and pre-booked appointments.

The service gives residents earlier access to face-to-face conversations with adult social care staff, closer to where they live at Talking Points. These conversations help identify issues allowing staff to refer residents to a wide variety of appropriate support, from physiotherapists to opticians, to local activities and resources.

This quicker, tailored and highly effective access to information, advice and support started at Talking Points which opened at Lidgett Grove Methodist Church in March 2018 and continued with the opening of a Talking Point at Oaken Grove, Haxby in July this year.

Feedback from people using this informal but informative option at Lidgett Grove and Oaken Grove have so far expressed over 95% satisfaction with the outcome of their conversations and actions taken. All service users saying they would recommend Talking Points.

Since March this year, the impact of the first Talking Point at Lidgett Grove has included:

  • Slashing waiting times for a full social care assessment, from an average nine weeks to less than a week. This is the time between an initial meeting and then discussing support needs in detail and putting support in place at a hub
  • Over 95% of people invited to the hub have said they were satisfied with the experience and, most importantly, the actions and outcome of their conversation at Talking Point
  • More than half of the people who, under the old system would usually have opted for a full social care assessment, felt the support they were offered met their needs and so declined the full assessment
  • The number of people needing paid-for social care services has fallen from 65%, to 43%.

New to the York Explore Talking Point are drop-in sessions as well as pre-booked appointments.

Further Talking Points will continue to open across the city as the programme develops.

Barbara Swinn, York Explore manager, said: “After the terrific start of Talking Point in Acomb and Haxby we’re looking forward to welcoming residents of all ages so they can chat with Talking Point staff about how together, we and they and the community, can bring about improvements to their lives and how they want to live it.”

Cllr Carol Runciman, executive member for health and adult social care said: “This third Talking Point in the centre of York serves people who find it easier to come and see us in town, and is the latest in a series which we plan to open across the city. I’m delighted to hear about the positive impact our other Talking Points are having on people’s lives.

“Our experience in York so far, is in line with the better experiences and outcomes for residents reported in other cities using this approach. It makes it easier for residents to access and source effective early intervention and support.”

Wintertime adult social care boost

City of York Council has been allocated £731,000 by the Government to support adult social care needs this winter

The funding is targeted at people who don’t need to be in hospital but who do need care. It will support people as they return home whilst freeing up more hospital beds, including getting people safely back home from hospital at the weekends.

While the detailed grant conditions have not yet been shared, we will be working closely with our NHS partners to target the money towards initiatives which will make the biggest difference to the city’s more vulnerable residents and to the whole system.

Prime York city centre redevelopment site still unused

The former Willow House elderly persons home on Long Close Lane, next to the Bar Walls, is still empty. The buildings, which are in reasonable condition, were abandoned by the Council in early 2017.

The site was slated for use as student flats following a successful planning application in October last year.

The site was then  subject to a wrangle about the use of, and continued access to, adjacent green space.

The security fencing makes a poor backdrop for the many visitors who walk along the adjacent walls.

Further down Long Moor Lane, highway officials have allowed  bushes  to completely block the public footpath; adding to the general impression of neglect in the area.

Willow House stands abandoned with no sign of redevelopment work starting.

Hedges completely block public footpath

£100 to park your car. Expensive neighbourhood