The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and local councils across the region have launched a new winter campaign to help rough sleepers and those at risk of becoming homeless.
‘There’s a Better Way’ is the latest campaign for the alternative giving scheme, Change into Action, which began five years ago and was also launched in Solihull in September 2019.
The campaign asks West Midlands residents to look out for people in their local areas who might be sleeping rough or at risk of homelessness so that they can be connected to local support services.
Rather than directly giving money to those begging on the street or at the road side, the campaign highlights alternative ways of helping so that people can get off the streets for good.
This includes a donation to Change Into Action and advice on how to seek support from street outreach teams as well as ways of spreading the word through social media.
The money raised by Change into Action is used in a variety of ways to make a change in the lives of people who need it. This includes providing accommodation, access to healthcare, clothing and training that could help secure a job.
The initiative is led by the WMCA Homelessness Taskforce and was originally set up by Mayor Andy Street in partnership with Birmingham City Council in late 2017.
Over time it has grown to include the local councils in Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, and Walsall, with Wolverhampton having a similar scheme called Alternative Giving CIO.
Thanks to the generosity of residents and local business more than £220,000 has been raised across the region – nearly £60,000 in Solihull - through Change into Action and Alternative Giving CIO, helping to change many people’s lives for the better.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “By working together, the region has done a good job of helping society’s most vulnerable and reducing the number of rough sleepers on our streets. However, there is still so much more to be done, and we know winter is traditionally a very challenging time for those sleeping rough.
“That is why we have launched the ‘There’s a Better Way campaign’, spearheaded by our Change into Action scheme. We know there is a huge number of people who want to help those less fortunate than us and make a difference, but often do not know how. This campaign looks to address this, and ultimately help improve people’s lives.”
Cllr Alison Rolf, Cabinet Member for Stronger and Safer Communities, said: “In Solihull we usually have between one and six people who regularly sleep rough and our outreach workers work hard to support and encourage rough sleepers to move into safe accommodation. We have also been helped by our local residents who have used StreetLink – the national reporting system – to tell us where they see people sleeping rough. Last year by working together we achieved an incredible 100% response rate, despite the difficulties posed by working through the pandemic.
“I echo the Mayor’s concerns as winter begins. We also know from experience that over the festive period more people find themselves homeless through no fault of their own and for a variety of reasons. Throughout the Christmas period our out of hour arrangements will be in place for people who find themselves homeless and in need of emergency temporary accommodation.
“Please get behind this campaign and help us to help our most vulnerable by alerting us when you spot people who you think are sleeping rough and by donating to Change into Action so that we can provide additional support for those that need it most.”
Since Change into Action Solihull was launched in September 2019 it has raised £59,130
To donate to Change into Action Solihull please visit – https://changeintoaction.org.uk/solihull/
To apply for a grant from Change into Action please visit - https://changeintoaction.org.uk/solihull/about/
If you see anyone sleeping rough please contact StreetLink via www.streetlink.org.uk/ or phone : 0300 500 0914. The notification will go directly to a street outreach team who will follow up with an offer of help
To request advice and assistance if faced with homelessness and in need of emergency temporary accommodation, please contact Solihull Community Housing on 0121 717 1515 (24/7).
If you think someone is in immediate danger always call 999.