Extra winter beds opening for rough sleepers in York

People sleeping rough in York can safely bed down this winter as extra emergency beds are being offered again, whatever the weather, from 1 November 2019 until 28 February 2020.

Besides securing nearly £400,000 extra fund for additional outreach workers to give rough more intensive support especially around mental health, York goes above and beyond the national ‘severe weather scheme’. Regardless of whether it’s freezing or not, we make extra emergency beds available bringing the total up to 29 in the winter months: that’s 20 more beds than our current official number of nine rough sleepers in the city.

Five of the emergency beds have been created at a council hostel and are being supported by volunteers from the YES Below Zero scheme. Last year this provision supported 18 rough sleepers into private rented accommodation.

Also in 2018-19, the council resettled 58 former rough sleepers or single homeless people into permanent tenancies, and accommodated 66 households during a period of homelessness.

People leaving sleeping on the streets are placed in the city’s 101-bed supported accommodation schemes. Their dogs can also be brought into emergency accommodation as has been the case in York since 2000.

The people are offered support and education to help address any of the issues that may have contributed to them becoming homeless. This includes referral to services for mental health or substance misuse, and training for work and how to manage a lasting tenancy.

Once that stage is successfully underway, they are allocated space in the city’s 90 independent accommodation units before, hopefully, supporting them into either private or affordable fully-independent homes.

Councillor Denise Craghill, executive member for housing and safer neighbourhoods, said: “Rough sleeping has increased by 132% nationally since 2010 with only a small decrease of 6% nationally during 2018-19. We have secured nearly £400,000 funding for 2019/20 to explore new ways to prevent it, as sleeping on the street lowers life expectancy to 47 years.

“With our partners The Salvation Army, Changing Lives, Peasholme Charity, Restore, YES Below Zero, Carecent and KEY, we continue to offer all known people sleeping rough help to get off the street and into safer, more stable lifestyle, including extra support for people with mental health and substance misuse issues.

“Help is routinely offered to rough sleepers on the early morning walks undertaken several times a week when everyone is offered a bed.”

Charles Walters, of the YES Below Zero team, said: “We are looking forward to building on the solid start YES Below Zero made over the 2018/2019 winter season. The team of volunteers was encouraged by the significant number of positive outcomes.

“As we gear up to help contribute capacity to the emergency bed provision for this next winter season, we invite those who are interested in volunteering to contact us on atbarnett33@gmail.com.

  • To alert support services to a rough sleeper, please ring Street Link on 0300 500 0914.
  • Or, please join us encouraging people sleeping rough to go to The Salvation Army’s early intervention and prevention hub at 63 Lawrence Street, York YO10 3BU between 10am and 12 noon when they’ll be given support.
  • At night or the weekend, rough sleepers can call 01609 780780 for help.
  • To find out ways to donate and support people out of homelessness, please visit www.york.gov.uk/roughsleeping

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.

New strategy for homelessness prevention in York

 Halving the number of rough sleepers and nearly £200,000 investment in our homelessness prevention work will be among the five priorities for the council’s new, five-year homelessness strategy.

Preventing Homelessness Together 2018-23 will be discussed by senior councillors on 21 June. It states a continued commitment to early help and prevention and outlines the council’s response to recent legislation.

(more…)

Homeless households reduce as prevention measures continue

Rough sleeper number up on target in November

Rough-sleeper-London-006A report on homelessness shows that despite the pressures of the Boxing Day Floods, numbers of temporarily homeless people were lower than forecast.

This and other outcomes will be presented to the Executive Member for Housing and Safer Communities on 18 July at 3pm, along with proposed targets and priorities for 2016/17.

In 2015/16 the council exceeded its target and reduced the number in temporary accommodation to 53. Statutory homelessness also continues to reduce with 91 cases in York in 2015/16 (an 11.6 per cent decrease on the previous year) which is in contrast to a national increase of 5.8 per cent. Added to that, 630 homeless prevention cases were successfully handled that year which the report recognises as a vital part of the service and significantly contributes to the reduction in statutory homelessness.

Providing bed and breakfast for families is recognised as a measure of last resort and then for no more than six weeks. As of the end of March 2016, there was only one household accommodated in bed and breakfast and this was not a family.

In addition, the council’s highly-successful Older Persons Housing Specialist exceeded targets by supporting older residents to meet their changing housing needs, and the service has been extended for a further six months.

Despite ongoing work, the commitment of agencies, continued resources and new flexible methods of working, the number of rough sleepers in York rose to 18 in November 2015.

York’s ongoing interventions by the council and partners – including Arc Light and the Salvation Army – means that the city has the resources to accommodate longer-term homeless people meaning that no-one need sleep rough in York. The city’s No Second Night Out scheme also helps rough sleeper in the city to find a place in a hostel.

The advice available to residents include work around mental health and housing to help people at risk to secure and maintain tenancies, while infrastructure improvements are being proposed for the Ordnance Lane temporary accommodation site.

National changes bring new challenges into social housing which could lead to the reduction in available affordable housing for rent which is likely to place additional pressures on the service.