Partnership effort sees rough sleeper numbers drop
The latest rough sleeper estimate has seen figures drop by 47% from 15 in 2017 to eight in 2018 but Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s Deputy Leader and Chair of the Social Inclusion Partnership (SIP) Cllr Terri Reid has warned eight people sleeping on the streets in the borough is “still too many”.
Each year the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government asks every local authority to submit the number of people sleeping rough in their area. In 2016 the borough recorded a figure of 26. Last year this dropped to 15 and this year it reduced again to eight, with all those counted being local to the borough.
This figure was agreed by members of the Basingstoke and Deane Social Inclusion Partnership which saw statutory services, commissioned housing providers, voluntary and faith-based groups and those with lived experience brought together three years ago by the council to work to reduce homelessness and the causes of homelessness collectively, with a shared vision.
Achievements over the past three years have included:
• A new winter night shelter providing essential shelter and help for the most vulnerable during the winter months for the past three years.
• Input from experts by experience with ‘lived’ understanding of homelessness.
• Raised community awareness and engagement in relation to homelessness, mental health and rough sleeping – including from local schools and businesses.
• Fundraising of over £40,000 through the Real Change not Loose Change campaign – leading to increased opening hours for the Camrose Centre, funding for the night shelter for three years and new storage lockers for people sleeping rough.
• The creation of a new, local Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) partnership coalition which has secured national endorsement and recognition together with whole system redesigns and changes.
• Progressing pioneering approaches to redesigning homelessness support and prevention services through working with Southampton University’s department of clinical psychology and Outcome Home.
• Improvements and changes between services and agencies, leading to innovative outcomes being secured for some individuals with highly complex and challenging needs.
• Improved information sharing and intelligence gathering in order to achieve psychologically informed and enhanced outcomes for service users.
Those agencies taking part in the rough sleeper estimate held in November included the police, the council’s housing officers, and community safety patrol team, local hospital staff, the drug and alcohol service, the Camrose Centre, local support providers Two Saints who run May Place house, the Julian House outreach service and Homegroup’s Mary Rose Court. National figures are due to be released soon.
The council’s Deputy Leader and Chair of the Social Inclusion Partnership Cllr Terri Reid said: “The significant reduction in figures over the last two years can be attributed to the hard work and positive partnerships built up across the borough.
“The devolved commissioning pilot for housing–related support services agreed with Hampshire County Council three years ago and the continued growth in enthusiasm and commitment to the Social Inclusion Partnership has enabled the creative and collaborative ways in which the borough is addressing homelessness.
“There is a feeling of collective responsibility felt by the whole community to tackle rough sleeping and the issues that are associated with it. The reduction in our rough sleeping figures demonstrate that this approach is working for Basingstoke and Deane but we cannot be complacent and eight people sleeping on the streets is still too many.
“We are in a more positive position because of the tremendous efforts and energy of everyone involved working together from those people in the Social Inclusion Partnership to those residents and businesses supporting the Real Change not Loose Change campaign – thank you. This effort is essential to maintaining or improving this figure and I’m delighted that together we have already started looking, refreshing and learning from our experiences to determine the SIP’s approach to rough sleeping in the future.”