Monday, 27 September 2010

No Recourse to Public Funds and Homeless

What services are available to those who are homeless and have no access to public funds?
The Home office has produced a document stating exactly what people can and can not access regarding benefits, which is a good starting point. Please see attached link.

For outreach workers and front line staff who have contact with rough sleepers and homeless clients, this is not enough information. We need to know what other services are out there so that people can eat, sleep and survive.

First, the age old debate of soup runs and food hand outs and whether they encourage people to maintain a life on the streets, or assist people by providing access to a valuable source of free food. For those that have no money, for whatever reason at least it is an opportunity for them get clean and healthy food, instead of starving, raiding bins, or worse cooking and eating rats (see blog discussion from the week of 12th September ).

Secondly, using day centres. Where people can make contact with local services (usually outside agencies have regular sessions, such as nurses, mental health workers, benefits advisors or legal advice) which they may otherwise feel unsure about accessing. Day centres usually have a clothing store, washing facilities and offer hot drinks, some also allow service users to use them as a care of address.

But, What else?
Women with no recourse to funds and who are trapped in relationships which are possibly abusive or violent, there is little help as refuges tend to require their service users to be on benefits. The Women’s Resource Centre has been campaigning for action, Click Here 
Those who need medical care, there is the option of accessing an HC1 or HC2 form, which can help with the cost of prescriptions, dental treatment, sight tests and paying for glasses, travel to and from hospital for treatment or for wigs and fabric supports. (Please note, I can not confirm that applications for these items are always accepted, as I have not used these forms. I would like to hear about applications that others have made and if they have been successful).

Any other suggestions would be much appreciated, please add your comments.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

What difference will changes to the way street counts are conducted make to the way we tackle homelessness?

In the lead up to the election, Grant Shapps promised changes. This week we have seen these changes implemented in a document produced by the Communities and Local Government body
(CGL )called Evaluating the Extent of Rough Sleeping: A new approach

New guidelines have been introduced with regards to both counting rough sleepers and undertaking counts. Previously only local authorities that had more than 10 rough sleepers (known as ‘hotspots’) were required to undertake a count. Now all local authorities are required to. However, once a count has been done, local authorities can decide how they supply the information, including the option of providing an estimate rather than an actual count number. Within these guidelines, there have also been changes to the way rough sleepers are counted. For the first time those that look like they are about to bed down, as well as those in tents, can be included within the count.
What difference will these changes actually make to the way we tackle homelessness? The new figures produced by these guidelines will show a more accurate indication of the number of rough sleepers, but will there be any extra support for the services working with this client group, or will we continue to see more and more cuts in funding?

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The Expulsion of Homeless EEA Nationals.

The Roma people and many others have left their native countries and moved legally to a fellow EU Member state in search of a better and more prosperous life. Many of these people are, however, unable to find work and are soon perceived to be placing a burden on their new country.

It is clearly evident that many people who find themselves in this position are desperate to avoid deportation to their native country. A fact best demonstrated by reports of outreach workers finding people cooking and eating rats just to survive(see link -

An inevitable result of this situation is an increase in the number of rough sleepers as people at risk of 'disappearing' in an effort to avoid deportation.

As a long established EU Member should the British Government take responsibility for these people and provide them with the same benefits and services as a British Citizen? Or, are they just an additional burden on Britain?

Monday, 6 September 2010

Are we supporting homeless ex-service men and women enough?

When completing housing and hostel referral forms, very few request information about serving history, discharge or even mention service personnel. We look at providing support for many of the bi-products related to serving in the forces, such as mental health issues, alcohol or drug abuse. But, we fail to acknowledge institutionalisation which can make 'civi street' very hard to cope with and life in general.
Although there are services to assist ex-service men with everyday issues, such as SSAFA, we as outreach workers do not specialise in this specific need as some may in mental health or addictions. I doubt that many workers have been offered training around such an issue.

How can we best prepare ourselves to effectively support ex-service men and women, so that we can assess their needs thoroughly and access services effectively?

(picture by Stuart Griffiths© ,