Tackling Homelessness: BCP Council’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy.

The partnership working across many agencies and voluntary sectors during the

pandemic deserves great praise with many striving tirelessly to reduce

homelessness and rough sleeping in our area. This is an incredibly difficult

challenge, but we are really starting to get things right. Our ambition remains to end

homelessness, and this is outlined in the recently published BCP Council’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy. 

We have been very successful in securing good government funding to tackle and

prevent homelessness and rough sleeping across BCP in the past 12-18 months.

These funds are allocated for planned initiatives, to pay for ongoing accommodation

costs, secure move on accommodation and for crucial roles to deliver the wrap

around holistic support and care required to help individuals make the step away

from homelessness permanent. A lot of funding pays for support / key workers and

many other professional roles to meet all the needs of the individuals we are working

with.

All that hard work is reaping rewards with national government figures showing that

the rough sleeping count has come down by 5% in the BCP area. In November

2020, across the conurbation there were 25 individuals sleeping rough compared to

72 in November 2019. This included enabling a number of entrenched rough

sleepers to finally accept help and move away from the streets.

Locally the situation with those in temporary accommodation and rough sleeping

continues to improve. The latest BCP street count carried out by St Mungo’s in May

showed 21 rough sleepers (11 of which had ‘returned to the streets’, 7 had no local

connection and 5 were long term rough sleepers – there was a slight increase in the

Poole number (coinciding with some “regulars” who come to Poole each summer).

With lockdown easing we do anticipate an increase, but we will monitor this.

Approximately 12 people a day are requesting temporary accommodation. These are

mostly single people. Eligibility criteria for Emergency Accommodation has not

changed since lockdown and the ‘Everyone in,’ initiative. If a person is verified as a

rough sleeper by the St Mungo’s Team and they have a local connection, they will be

offered accommodation.

If they are from out of area, the Council will try to reconnect them to their area. There

has been no change to the criteria for rough sleepers without a local connection. We

do not offer temporary accommodation, but discretionary overnight accommodation

may be offered but only if the individual had a reconnection in another area and can

be helped to return there.

Some rough sleepers still decline the offer of support and are difficult to engage for

various reasons. They are often complex cases.

175 individuals are now being housed in hotels (reducing). There were approx 12

move-on’s from temporary accommodation each week with the majority being

successful. The main challenge we are facing at present is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to access the private sector rental market, this is an issue across

the South West. There has been a reduction in the availability of rented

accommodation for a number of reasons. One key challenges is that a lack of

availability had led to an increase in rental rates creating an affordability issue.

With regards to the BCP housing team, there is an increase in demand for all types

of accommodation, as well as an increase in homelessness applications, and twice

the number of household requests for accommodation due to family breakdown,

domestic abuse, end of rental contracts. However, 1051 households have had

homelessness prevented.

There are a lot of exciting initiatives coming forward, particularly around homeless

healthcare with plans for a BCP health and housing hub in Bournemouth. The hub

(with outreach across the conurbation) which we are planning at St Stephens Church

Hall is part of the overall approach to make the most of the resources we have and

to build on the joint collaborative multi agency and disciplinary working which was

developed during the pandemic. This is a BCP initiative that we have decided to

invest in and is part of our recently updated strategy.

The hub can offer access to a wider scope of health and wellbeing services than

could realistically be delivered without a base and can be accessed by all regardless

of where they are vulnerable housed as well as those still on the streets.

There are many benefits to staff of having a base where they can be co-located and

work together in a multi-disciplinary way and aiding multi-agency communication and

service delivery and makes the most of the services we have in place already as well

as new roles which have recently been funded.

The health hub would provide office and clinic space, showers, laundry facilities,

access to computers and locker space so that people can attend and receive the

support and/or treatment needed.

There are many other initiative happening, including access to clothing and new

shoes, furniture and household items when people settle into accommodation, help

to move and move in, day provision to offer meaningful occupation, training and

skills development and getting people back into work, more support around mental

health and addiction issues and befriending. There is also financial and debt advice

and support to claim benefits and access a wide variety of services.

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