As rough sleepers face the double threat of harsh winter weather and the ongoing pandemic the region’s local authorities have come together to announce their joint winter plan for individuals at risk of rough sleeping.
In collaboration with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the Homelessness Taskforce, and partners from the public, private and voluntary sectors, a joint winter plan to help keep rough sleepers safe has been drawn up by local authorities across the region.
The plan is a commitment to keeping the most vulnerable people safe during winter to ensure that no one dies on the streets during severe weather.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic we have been able to make a significant impact to reduce the number of people sleeping rough. With tireless efforts by our region’s local authorities and our partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors, and with the support of government funding, we’ve been able to bring ‘Everyone In’ across the WMCA region. But as we enter the cold winter months, there can be no let-up in our determination to build on the progress that’s been made.
“We must maintain our efforts to protect those at risk of having to sleep rough – so that everyone can have a safe, secure and warm place to live. And as we work to ensure our region recovers from the economic impacts of the pandemic, we must make every effort to ensure no-one is left behind.”
Cllr Karen Grinsell, Solihull deputy leader and cabinet member for adult social care and health, added: “In Solihull there are usually between two and six people who regularly sleep rough and we have worked hard to reduce this further still. However, there are also many people who are homeless and at risk of sleeping rough and we know that over the festive period this group increases.
“Our message is – nobody needs to sleep rough. Our outreach team will continue to check the streets and help and support those who aren’t ready to make the move off the streets into accommodation. People can you help us be our eyes and ears by reporting and referring rough sleepers via StreetLink.
“Since the first lockdown in March we have helped 155 people at risk of homelessness, housing them through emergency Covid-19 placements and 81 of these people have then been supported into longer term housing.”
For the third year running local authorities and wider partners have come together to ensure there is a coordinated regional response and this year will include an ongoing offer of emergency accommodation and move-on support to reduce the risk of Covid-19 among individuals at risk of rough sleeping.
Through this winter and lockdown councils have pledged to ensure no one needs to sleep rough as additional accommodation will be open and every effort will be made to provide individuals with appropriate services to meet their needs and support them to move away from sleeping on the streets for good. This commitment covers everyone, including pet owners, couples, those who have no recourse to public funds, people who may have previously been banned from support services, those with no local connection, and people with complex needs.
West Midlands residents are being urged this winter to let local authorities know about anybody who they think may be rough sleeping. They can do this by contacting StreetLink www.streetlink.org.uk to connect people sleeping rough to local support services.