Homelessness and rough sleeping strategy

Strategic priority 4 - tackling rough sleeping

The government aims to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and end it by 2027. In August 2018 it launched its national rough sleeping strategy, within the strategy is the requirement that all homelessness strategies are reviewed and rebadged by the end of 2019 to include a specific focus on addressing rough sleeping. The national strategy has three pillars, prevention, intervention and recovery. Whilst recognising that rough sleeping is the most extreme form of homelessness the strategy acknowledges that to fix it, requires that the whole system is working to prevent all forms of homelessness.

At a local level the number of people sleeping rough is low, but is still too many. No one should have to sleep rough and we need to ensure we have sufficient provision in place to support people sleeping rough. We have seen an increase in the number of individuals at risk of rough sleeping and the number of referrals made to our outreach service. The number of individuals who sleep rough remain in single figures per night and have been relatively comparative to previous years; however we recognise that more must be done to provide appropriate pathways off the streets for those who are sleeping rough in our borough.

We have also seen a dramatic increase in begging particular in the town centre by people who may look homeless but are not necessarily homeless. Public awareness of homelessness (in particular rough sleeping) and its impact on people and communities has grown significantly and continues to be a priority for us.

Outreach service

We jointly commissioned our rough sleeper's outreach service with Stoke-on-Trent City Council. The service provides assertive outreach and support to those who are sleeping rough within the boundaries of Newcastle and Stoke-on-Trent. The support provided aims to help rough sleepers move off the streets with a view of securing accommodation and access to other services. The service follows the No Second Night out ethos, where the aim is for no one to spend a second night sleeping rough.

We have had this joint commissioning arrangement for a number of years and the service works very well across both areas with an extensive knowledge base.

Rough sleeper co-ordinator

A successful bid was made to the MHCLG rough sleeper initiative funding to provide a rough sleeper co-ordinator for the borough. The role has a wide remit and works with all who have an interest in rough sleeping, ranging from our staff and members, partners who provide services that support rough sleepers. The role will also develop working relationships, develop initiatives, promote services and reach out to all areas of our communities. The responsibility of the role is to ensure rough sleeping issues are understood more widely and to work with all areas to collectively deliver a joined up approach on the rough sleeping aims within this strategy. This role also leads on any rough sleeping funding opportunities, business cases and also works with the MHCLG to share best practice and provide monitoring.

Alongside the rough sleeper co-ordinator there are a number of support services including the Open Door pilot and Make It Count directed giving, in conjunction with these there is also a range of community safety schemes and town centre enforcement.

We will:

  • via our outreach service, continue to respond to reports of rough sleeping and ensure this response adequately engages with rough sleepers
  • raise awareness to the public on the extent of homelessness and rough sleeping and street begging and what the council and partners are doing about it
  • develop the local make it count scheme
  • look at options which would support the accommodation of people rough sleeping including the severe weather emergency protocol (SWEP) to ensure a multi-agency approach can be called upon to end their street homelessness
  • develop closer links with voluntary and community agencies, such as foodbanks and faith based organisations to promote effective local responses and consistency in tackling homelessness across the borough
  • ensure those considered not in ‘priority need’ receive the same level of advice and assistance as those who trigger the statutory definition
  • explore the viability of launching a Housing First model of support to the most complex and vulnerable to sustain tenancies
  • deliver, monitor and review existing rough sleeping services to ensure value for money and the objectives are met
  • work closely with the MHCLG rough sleeper advisor on existing and new grant opportunities to shape services for 2020/21 and beyond
  • gather data on the rough sleeping population to inform future bids for funding and feed into future service provision
  • work with other statutory partners on identifying gaps in services for the most complex individuals