Local authorities across the West Midlands have joined to help rough sleepers as they battle the harsh winter weather and ongoing challenges caused by the pandemic.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the Homelessness Taskforce, and partners from the public, private and voluntary sectors, have set out a joint winter plan with the aim of protecting people sleeping rough across the region.
As part of the plan, the partners will work together to identify local solutions to ensure that individuals are helped to move away from sleeping on the streets for good.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said “During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have consistently looked to reduce the number of people sleeping rough and ensure everyone in the West Midlands has a safe, secure, and warm place to stay.
“However, we know it is important to ramp up our efforts in winter as there are increased risks associated with sleeping rough during the colder months.
“Tireless efforts by our region's local authorities and partners in the private, public, and voluntary sectors mean we can continue to address the pressing issue of homelessness and help those people who need it the most.”
Throughout this winter, councils have pledged that no one needs to sleep rough in severe weather conditions 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.
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.
Cllr Alison Rolf, Solihull Council’s Cabinet Member for Stronger and Safer Communities, said: “In Solihull there are usually between two and six people who regularly sleep rough and our outreach team works hard to reduce this by checking the streets and supporting people to make the move off the streets and into accommodation.
“We’ve also prevented 242 households from becoming homeless this year and helped 731 people into long term housing.
“Our message is – nobody needs to sleep rough. People can help us by reporting anyone they think is sleeping rough via StreetLink, the national reporting system. You can also help provide additional support by donating to Change into Action Solihull.”
West Midlands residents are being urged this winter to let local authorities know about anybody who they think may be rough sleeping. For more information or to contact StreetLink, visit https://www.streetlink.org.uk/ or call 0300 500 0914.
To make a donation to Change into Action Solihull visit - https://changeintoaction.org.uk/solihull/
To request advice and assistance if faced with homelessness and in need of emergency temporary accommodation, contact Solihull Community Housing (SCH) on 0121 717 1515 (24/7)
If you think someone is in immediate danger always call 999.
West Midlands Winter Plan for Rough Sleepers 2021/2022:
- Across the West Midlands public, private and charitable agencies will be working to engage and support rough sleepers off the streets. Specifically, rough sleeper outreach teams in Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton will work to rapidly respond to locate people known to be sleeping rough and support them to access a place of safety.
- Severe weather provision across the WMCA region will provide individuals with a safe place to stay and allow an intensive assessment of needs. All local authorities will trigger severe weather provision in line with individual local arrangements, taking into account Met Office yellow weather warnings where appropriate.
- Everyone who is sleeping rough in the WMCA region will be able to access severe weather provision. This includes people whose needs are complex, pet owners, couples, those who have no recourse to public funds, people who may have previously been banned from support services, and those with no local connection.
- The West Midlands Housing First Pilot will continue to provide intensive support to those individuals who have come onto the programme with the most complex needs to enable them to recover from issues such as mental ill health or substance abuse and to sustain their tenancies.
- Charities working with people at risk of homelessness in Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton will be able to access funding through Change into Action and Alternative Giving CIO to support individuals off the street and to receive personalised support to meet their individual needs.
- Across the WMCA region public information will highlight the vulnerability of people who sleep rough and the ways in which the public are best able to help.
- Free bus tickets will be available through our partnership with National Express West Midlands in Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton to enable people sleeping rough to access the support that they need and to travel to accommodation.
- Members of the public right across the West Midlands will be able to alert local authorities about individuals who are sleeping rough in their area by contacting StreetLink so that they can be connected to local support services.
- Each local authority will continue to monitor how many people are sleeping rough in the West Midlands and use this information to track our progress in tackling rough sleeping and to inform new approaches.
- In line with the Homelessness Reduction Act many public bodies including prisons, youth offender institutions, youth offending teams, secure training centres and colleges, probation services, jobcentre plus, accident and emergency services provided in a hospital, urgent treatment centres and hospitals in their capacity of providing in-patient treatment and social service authorities across the WMCA region will deliver their duty to refer people at risk of homelessness to their local authority. Additionally, in the WMCA area many bodies will be voluntarily adopting this responsibility to refer and beyond that to collaborate with their local authority in preventing homelessness.
- Local authorities and the WMCA are working in partnership with charity, faith, community and voluntary organisations who create additional accommodation and support capacity during winter to ensure that all individuals at risk of rough sleeping are supported.
- Local authorities will encourage all professionals to check on the welfare of individuals sleeping rough and offer help or signposting.