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“Busier than ever”

We urge the Government to match our aspirations to end rough sleeping for everyone

What stood out most for many of us during the first lockdown was how, when aspirations from national and local Government, people experiencing disadvantage and services all aligned, positive social change can happen. It was proven, that with the right offer of support, the high levels of homelessness we have seen in this country can become a thing of the past.

During this lockdown, however, more and more people are experiencing rough sleeping. For many, the positives of the work associated with Everybody In, namely the relationships and trust that developed between people, has broken down.

“It’s busier than ever on the streets. All the doorways filled with boxes from the older generation.” Member of National Advisory Panel

“Nobody is taking up the offer to go in, they’re saying, ‘You go in, you get acclimatised, and then they throw you out when the funding runs out.’” Member of National Advisory Panel

For many, but not for all. Some services are building on their learning, working with people rather than against them. Drug and alcohol services are providing an outreach model that meets people where they are, responding to their needs rather than external monitoring targets. Outreach workers are adopting effective working practices so they can continue vital face-to-face work.

“We’ve [DRUG AND ALCOHOL SERVICE] adapted really well with the support that has been offered. Workers are going in to hotels. A lot of people who were assessed during the first COVID Lockdown - if people need treating now they don’t need assessing, just triage. Can use telephone in rooms. People on the street are prescribing.” Member of National Advisory Panel

“There’s been adaptations since first lockdown. There’s a risk assessment in place, such as wearing PPE, social distancing where possible, using hand sanitizer.” Member of National Advisory Panel

But the context that we are in has changed. People in some areas note a lack of available accommodation, where some had previously been available. And many night shelters, which can engage with people that other support cannot reach, are set to remain closed over the winter.

“We’ll be out every evening in severe weather, if there’s an offer. It’s not looking clever on bed spaces.” Member of National Advisory Panel

“There’s no [winter] provision. The COVID provision continues, but it’s not the same people. People would go to church shelter, but this isn’t happening.” Member of National Advisory Panel

Some funds have been made available nationally. Under the new Protect Programme ‘areas with high numbers of rough sleepers will receive extra targeted support to provide accommodation for those currently sleeping rough, working with councils to prioritise those who are clinically vulnerable.’ This is in addition to the ‘£91.5 million allocated to 274 councils in September to fund their individual plans for rough sleepers over the coming months, as well as the £10 million Cold Weather Fund’).

Although funding is welcome, these figures do not compare to Everybody In, a programme that did not have to contend with some of the challenges that we now find ourselves in, with specific local authorities declaring bankruptcy, and speculation that many others will follow. There are questions over what will become of the many non-statutory services that are crucial to the countries response to homelessness, such as some drug and alcohol services and outreach?

“We’re not allowed to spend any money on detox – have to go to the Receivers!” Member of National Advisory Panel

Whereas people experiencing rough sleeping are showing resilience and aspiration, this is not matched with resources that will make a difference. Funding needs to aspire to help everybody end their rough sleeping, including those with No Recourse to Public Funds and those who are not engaging with historic offers. We must give all people a genuine choice of accommodation, with a voice over what that means, and an offer of support that works with peoples aspirations.

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