Homelessness

Update 1 January 2019

Happy New Year! A new year brings new opportunities to make a positive difference in our community. As regular readers will know I am determined to eradicate homelessness and have worked hard to ensure that resources are available to enable this to happen. 

Since my early twenties, when I lived and worked in New York, and was so shocked to see people sleeping rough in one of the wealthiest cities in the world, I have been actively involved in tackling this issue. During my time in America, I volunteered in a shelter for homeless men. My voluntary work continued in London and Truro, with the Truro Homeless Action Group. 

I believe that everyone should have a decent, warm and affordable home. Since being elected in 2010, I have been working with Government Ministers, Cornwall Council and local organisations that work with rough sleepers and homeless people to enable us to tackle this issue. 

It all started with making sure that, as far as possible, we have the correct information about the number of rough sleepers. The Government has made improvements to enable people undertaking the rough sleepers count to build up a clearer picture of the scale of the problem. I joined those undertaking the count here and we were able to find many more people than the previous system enabled. This information led to Cornwall Council realising the scale of the problem and more funding from the Government. 

While more money is important, it’s just as important to spend it wisely. Resolving the complex challenges people face requires team work from our public services and support from our community. So I am pleased that new legislation and guidance, that I helped shape, is also enabling this to happen. Sharing what works from around the country is also important. 

I am now seeing much improved collaboration and coordination of local services and that is beginning to make a significant and sustained positive difference. 

Cornwall Council has a Rough Sleeping Reduction Strategy and with the Government’s Rough Sleepers Initiative funding, Cornwall Council, Cornwall Housing Ltd and partners like St Petroc’s, Addaction and Coastline Housing are making continued efforts to reduce the incidence of rough sleeping in Cornwall.  

Cornwall reported a 31% reduction in its estimate of the incidence of rough sleeping over the year to November 2017. This year’s count has recently taken place and validation of the numbers of rough sleepers is awaited. I very much hope we continue to see a reduction.  

While we are making progress, I know that there is more to do. If you see someone rough sleeping call 01872 264153 as help is available. Over the Winter there will be a number of services operating across Cornwall to support rough sleepers. St Petroc’s Temporary Night Shelter will operate until 18 February providing 17 spaces. A ‘pop up’ temporary night shelter at the Breadline Centre, Penzance opened on the 5 November 2018 and will provide 8-10 spaces until 18 February too. 

Coastline Housing has provided an additional 6 crisis bed spaces which opened on 16 October 2018. This means there are now 18 night spaces which will remain available until the opening of new Crisis Accommodation at Heartlands in April. Furthermore, Coastline are providing two additional Assistive Street Outreach workers to ensure rough sleepers can be identified and assessed as quickly as possible. 

In addition, the Council is introducing further schemes to assist rough sleepers. The Private Landlord Incentive scheme encourages landlords to rent to former rough sleepers by mitigating the perceived risk of taking them as tenants through increased deposits, an additional 10% of LHA payment, limited void cover and a point of contact if problems arise. The Short Term Accommodation Resettlement (STAR) scheme is providing additional accommodation with support for rough sleepers before they move on to settled housing. 

All of this work is supported by a small army of volunteers who support St Petroc’s, Addaction, Coastline Housing, Truro Homeless Action Group and many churches and local organisations who provide practical and emotional support for members of our community. Thank you to everyone who makes a contribution to help the most vulnerable people in our community. Together, I am sure we can end rough sleeping and homelessness. 

Update 19 February 2018

As a result of much improved team work and additional government funding there are fewer people rough sleeping in Cornwall than last year. Out of all of the local authority areas in the country, Cornwall showed the biggest reduction in rough sleepers. In November 2016 there were reported to be 99 people sleeping on the streets and by November 2017 that figure had been cut to 68.

There is still so much more that needs to be done. I am pleased that leading experts from homelessness charities, housing, including Cornwall Housing and local government met for the first time recently as part of the government’s new rough sleeping advisory panel and committed to work together to help eliminate rough sleeping within a decade.

Update 8 February 2018

We cannot accept rough sleeping as a stubborn problem that will always be with us. That’s why we are providing over £1 billion of funding, supporting those who are homeless and rough sleeping and bringing in the most ambitious legislation in decades that will mean people get the support they need earlier.

Tackling homelessness is complex, but no one should ever have to sleep rough. I have spent most of my adult life volunteering with organisations supporting homeless people and very much support St Petroc’s campaign to end homelessness in Cornwall.

I am pleased that the West Briton newspaper has done so much to raise awareness of the challenges faced by homeless people. Local residents have kindly provided a huge amount of help.

Using the additional Government funding that I helped secure for Cornwall Council, work started last summer with multiple publicly funded agencies, charities and housing providers from across the county joining forces on the Rough Sleeping Reduction Strategy, to help stop homelessness in the first place, help get rough sleepers into housing and provide support to keep rough sleepers off the streets permanently.

As a result of much improved team work there are fewer people rough sleeping in Cornwall than last year. Out of all of the local authority areas in the country, Cornwall showed the biggest reduction in rough sleepers. In November 2016 there were reported to be 99 people sleeping on the streets and by November 2017 that figure had been cut to 68.

There is still so much more that needs to be done. I am pleased that leading experts from homelessness charities, housing and local government met for the first time last week as part of the government’s new rough sleeping advisory panel and committed to work together to help eliminate rough sleeping within a decade.

The new panel chaired by Homelessness Minister, Heather Wheeler, will help develop the national rough sleeping strategy to halve rough sleeping over the course of the Parliament and eliminate it altogether by 2027.

Made up of experts, charities and local government, including from Cornwall Housing, the panel will draw on their considerable experience and individual successes to support the Ministerial Taskforce. This will bring together ministers from key departments to provide a cross-government approach to preventing rough sleeping and homelessness.

The government’s determined, more holistic and joined up approach, as well as new investment is making a positive difference that will end this stubborn problem.

Update October 2017

Since my early twenties I have volunteered with charities that provide support for homeless people, providing shelter, food and company. I remain clear that one person without a home is one too many and the Government remains committed to do more to prevent people becoming homelessness in the first place.

The revised statutory Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities has been published this week. The statutory guidance sets out the steps that local authorities should take into account when providing support to people who are homeless and plans to update the current Homelessness Code of Guidance. In consultation with local authorities and the homeless sector the current guidance has been reviewed to cover the new duties created by the Homelessness Reduction Act whilst also streamlining the information on existing law.

The Act is the most ambitious legislative reform in decades and will ensure that more people get the help they need earlier to prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place. However, the Act is just one element of our ambitious programme to fundamentally reform the response to homelessness, putting prevention at the heart of this approach.

We’ve allocated over £950 million until 2020 to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping. Cornwall Council is receiving dedicated homelessness prevention funding and Ocean Housing funding for new dedicated accommodation for people rough sleeping here.

Cornwall Council will be receiving £697,152 between now and 2020 to fund the administrative costs of the additional new duties contained within the Act. Cornwall Council will also be receiving its share of £3 million to support them in upgrading their data systems to monitor the impact of the Homelessness Reduction Act.

But we know there is more to do. That is why are aiming to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminate it altogether by 2027.

Update July 2017

Cornwall Council has new responsibilities to ensure effective partnership working that prevents people becoming homeless in Cornwall. They have been additional funding specifically to tackle rough sleeping. Here are the plans they have recently launched:

https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/media/27593848/rough-sleeper-strategy-final-may-2017.pdf

Update April 2017

I was pleased to meet with Ocean Housing Homeless team to hear about the progress in building a new dedicated facility for homeless people. Also to learn about the recently produced report that demonstrates the success of the Homeless Hospital Discharge Scheme at Treliske. You can read this report here:

https://www.housinglin.org.uk/Topics/type/Cornwall-Hospital-Discharge-P…

Update 17th March 2017

Cornwall is to benefit from a £1.2 million Flexible Homelessness Support Grant, this funding is to both prevent rough sleeping and support those rough sleeping.

Update 5th January 2017

It is hugely important that homeless people are offered the help they need. In some cases it can be reasonably straightforward to enable a rough sleeper to get back on their feet, but in many other cases there are deep-rooted problems that mean individuals find it hard to engage with the support available to them.

It is important that we are all aware of the support on offer to homeless people so that we are able to help those who are affected by it.

Thankfully there are several excellent support services both in Cornwall and nationally that offer help to some of the most vulnerable people in society.

If you encounter a rough sleeper you may refer them to support through the following services:

  • Devon & Cornwall Rough Sleeper Partnership Tel: 0800 151 3441
  • Street Link: http://www.streetlink.org.uk/ Tel: 0300 500 3441
  • St Petroc’s Tel: 01872 264153 (open 9.00 am – 5.00 pm Monday to Friday) 

In Falmouth the Dracaena Centre provides free cooked breakfasts, tea and coffee, cakes, showers and washing facilities as well as advice on housing and alcohol & drug abuse. The Centre, located on Dracaena Avenue, is open from 10.30 am to 1.30 pm.

The Highway Community Centre run foodbanks in Penryn and Falmouth. These are open on Wednesdays 3.00 pm – 4.00 pm at Miss Peapods, Jubilee Wharf and on Fridays 10.00 am – 11.00 am at Falmouth Methodist Church on the Moor. The Highway Community Centre may be contacted on 01326 378433 or via email at foodbank@highwaychurch.co.uk.

For those based in Truro, Truro Homeless Action Group serves breakfast every morning at St John’s Hall, Strangways Terrace, Truro, between 7.30am – 8.30am with festive lunches on Christmas Day and Boxing Day from noon to 2pm (no breakfast is served on these days).

On Mondays St Petroc’s at 8 City Road, Truro provide pasties at 18:30. A soup run is provided at the Piazza in the Town centre every Tuesday evenings at 17:45 while a hot meal is provided at St John’s Hall, Strangways Terrace on Friday evenings between 18:00 – 18:45.

Food bank opening times in the Truro area are detailed below:

Monday: Truro Methodist Church between 10.00 am – 12.30 pm

Tuesday: Highertown Parish Church Hall between 10.00 am – 12.00 noon

Thursday: Truro Methodist Church between 10.00 am – 12.30 pm

The Roseland Foodbank delivers food to clients by arrangement. They can be reached on: 077 2172 1669

Below are other contact details for organisations that may be useful for homeless people:

  • CAP (Christians Against Poverty) are a debt counselling charity. Tel: 01872 279534
  • Citizens Advice Bureau Cornwall Tel: 03444 111 444
  • Cornwall County Council Tel: 0300 1234161
  • Health for the Homeless Tel: 01872 242294
  • Samaritans Tel: 01872 277277
  • Shelter Tel: 0344 5152300
  • Social Services Tel: 01872 278533
  • Cosgarne Hall, which provides accommodation and support for homeless people in Cornwall, is available on: 01726 74186

The hard-working organisations mentioned above help many in Cornwall who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. It is important that everyone is aware of the support on offer to homeless people so that we are all able to help those most in need.

Update 14 September 2016

Shelter run a Hospital Discharge Service at Royal Cornwall Hospital with St Petrocs, Coastline Housing and Cornwall Housing Ltd which helps patients being discharged from hospital who are facing homelessness.

Over the past year more than 200 Cornwall hospital patients facing homelessness have found a home after being discharged.

If you or someone you know faces homelessness once being discharged from hospital you can phone Shelter’s free helpline on 0808 800 4444 to speak to an expert adviser.