25th May, 2020

Expanded team offering support to rough sleepers

Coventry Editorial 23rd May, 2020

Six new outreach workers have started working in Coventry providing a boost to services that support people who are homeless.

Altogether, the Council now has nine people, including a co-ordinator, who work with rough sleepers.

During the COVID-19 outbreak 96 people have been moved from sleeping on the streets or living in night shelters into temporary accommodation by the council’s team working alongside The Salvation Army.

There are seven people who are still sleeping rough and the outreach team are engaging with them on a daily basis and offering accommodation.

Cllr Tariq Khan, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities said: “As a result of COVID-19 it was a massive achievement to encourage so many rough sleepers off the streets.

“For a complex number of reasons people sleeping, about to bed down, or bedded down – on the street, in doorways, parks, tents and sheds often need a period of time to weigh up the changes they need to make to adjust to a new lifestyle.

“At the same time night shelters have had to close so it has been important to have outreach workers staying in touch with people.

“It is important to provide support to people – who are so used to being on the street – to remain in temporary accommodation. This includes accessing other services, signing up for bank accounts and support to consider their housing options.”

The outreach team have also been visiting the handful of rough sleepers still sleeping outside daily as well as seeking out people who are new to our streets.

Cllr Khan added: “The key is to maintain that engagement.”

The Council and other agencies have been addressing rough sleeping with the help of a homelessness prevention service that has been operating for the past 2 years and agencies working from the Steps for Change in the Arcade and other locations.

The Council also works with charities, churches and agencies working citywide to prevent homelessness and to secure accommodation for those who end up as homeless.

Coventry also has a Homeless Forum of 40+ agencies now meeting regularly.

Since August 2019 the Housing First scheme, was set up and has found accommodation with support for 22 long term entrenched rough sleepers who have complex needs.

The Council is also working with its housing association partners to develop new properties in the city.

Public support

The council say people should make their own choice about how they wish to provide support to rough sleepers, but their website states the best way is to give to charities who help street homeless long term.

Change into Action is an alternative giving scheme supporting local specialist charities and street teams working to change the circumstances of rough sleepers and those at risk of rough sleeping in Coventry.

A web page has been set up to coordinate public donations, with Feeding Coventry – a local charity, working to distribute the money raised by the public, directly to rough sleepers here: http://www.changeintoaction.org.uk/

More information on Feeding Coventry can also be found here: https://letstalk.coventry.gov.uk/feeding-coventry

If you see someone you think is rough sleeping you can report this via StreetLink here: https://www.streetlink.org.uk/

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