Monday, 29 November 2010

Working with those that continue to refuse accomodation, even during the coldest weather.

Now that winter is definatley here, cold weather provision services have been set up to ensure that everyone can access emergency accommodation.

Every year rough sleepers die on the streets, but when the weather gets very cold, many agencies set up emergency accommodation. Some cities have churches which open thier doors for the winter, such as the Church circuit in London. Many other cities work with homeless organisations to provide temporary accomodation in hostels and B&B's. Click here link for more information.
But there are still those that refuse all offers of accommodation despite the dropping temperatures. These are quite often people with mental health issues, who are considered unwell, but not seriously enough to be sectioned for their own welfare.
What can we do to ensure these clients are as safe as possible if they insist they will not leave the streets?

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

At what point is a person no longer considered to be homeless?

For people with a history of rough sleeping, squatting or living in hostels moving into independent accommodation can be challenging. 
The responsibilities of having a tenancy, budgeting and paying bills, together with the possibility of loneliness and isolation, can have a big impact on whether a person can break the cycle of homelessness. But once a person has settled and is comfortable where they are how easy is it to integrate into society with out the stigma affecting relationship or friendships.
At what point does a former homeless person leave the lifestyle behind? Is is time bound or can it be a state of mind? 

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Are Personalisation Budgets the way forward in combating homelessness?

There have been many changes over the years with regards to how we work with rough sleepers and the services that are on offer to them. One of the most recent is Personalisation Budgets, also known as Individual Budgets (IB).

The idea of these budgets is to give rough sleepers control and a voice to choose what kind of support they feel they need the most. They choose a lead worker to support them within a multi agency team, and can choose how their budget will be spent in accordance with their individual suport plan.

This has been piloted by agencies in Exeter, North Devon, Northampton, London and Nottingham, who have specifically targetedentrenched rough sleepers with complex needs. To find out more about the individual pilots and the results, Click here.

In summary:

  • Exeter (found success in using it to access appropriate housing).
  • North Devon (used budgets to assist rough sleepers to settle into long term homes.)
  • Northampton (worked with the already existing service, but provided a specifically allocated worker. Also, identified three levels of care and support reqwuired by indiviasluals and provided budgets realting to these needs.)
  • London (used an already exisiting outreach worker with entrenched rough sleepers and gave the indivduals choices about accommodation options other than the 'traditional approaches' such as hostels.)
  • Nottingham (dedicated a 'rough sleepers personalisation officer' within its already exiting team, to find long term and suitable housing options for the most entrenched of rough sleepers.)

So far the findings of these pilots seem very positive. Can this be the solution to ending entrenched rough sleeping?

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Are we able to solve the problem of the 'revolving door' of homelessness?

Several years ago homeless organisations acknowledged the issue of ‘the revolving door of homelessness’. Through much hard work and cooperation with other agencies specific situations were identified, which were believed to be the contributory factors of the ‘revolving door’.The main body of these factors seem to be  multiply linked to the criminal justice system, mental health issues, substance misuse, and homelessness.

In 2007 St. Mungo’s and Revolving Doors Agency (RDA) went into partnership and piloted a scheme in Islington, so as to identify ways of improving support and link work between agencies, “to prevent people from spiralling into a cycle of crisis, crime and mental health problems". Click here for link.  It seems that this scheme showed some very positive results.

Now in October 2010, the Government are looking for further ways to tackle this issue, and have identified the issue of rehousing ex-offenders upon release. Click here for link.

While I understand that the lack of access to accommodation can be a contributory factor to re-offending rates, I don’t see how we can be specifically identify private sector accommodation as the solution to this issue. There is already pressure on the agencies to find appropriate accommodation options for homeless clients, within a limited stock of housing resources.

Can we be doing more to improve links between agencies and for service users or is the ‘System’ partly responsible for this ‘revolving door' of homelessness? What are the solutions?

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Are sponsored sleep outs a good way of highlighting homelessness?

There seems to be a growing trend by some homelessness agencies to raise funds and highlight the issues of homelessness by organising sponsored sleep outs. Most recently the new president of the YMCA, Sir Richard Dannant, slept out along with Norfolk’s High Sheriff Charles Barratt and Judge Phillip Curl. Click here for link and short video 
While I commend those who try to accurately experience a night on the streets, I feel despair when I hear about those who turn a sponsored sleep out into some kind of camping holiday, all night street party and publicity stunt. For people that have to sleep rough this kind of fund-raising may be seen as patronising and very disrespectful.
 It seems that fund-raising teams are running out of ideas. Maybe we (the readers of The Spike) should help them out with a few suggestions, that would be less disrespectful to rough sleepers and those that sleep out in the cold every night.