The latest official estimate on the number of rough sleepers in Cornwall suggest a co-ordinated action plan by Cornwall Council and partners to tackle the issue of people sleeping rough is beginning to see positive results, with a 31% drop compared to last year.
Official estimates show that whilst Cornwall still has a relatively high numbers of rough sleepers, 68 individuals were reported as rough sleeping compared to 99 reported the previous year. The figures come from Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) data on the number of rough sleepers in Cornwall on a typical night in November 2017.
Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Member for Homes Andrew Mitchell said: “Ultimately, no one should be forced to sleep rough in Cornwall, or anywhere else for that matter. We want to get as close to that goal as possible and we’re working to make that happen. These results suggest our support services are making a difference and that we are keeping people off the streets. It’s a sign we are making good progress through excellent partnership but there is still a long way to go.”
In July 2017, the Council launched a £1.1 million approach to preventing and reducing rough sleeping with £850,000 coming from Cornwall Housing and £292,000 from a successful bid to the previously named Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) for Nos Da Kernow (No First Night Out).
The principle behind the Rough Sleeping Reduction Strategy is to step in early to help those threatened with having to sleep rough as well as improving greater access to transitional housing and support services. The multi-agency rough sleeper reduction strategy works to:
- prevent rough sleeping in the first place by helping those most at risk
- help new rough sleepers quickly access housing, help and support
- identify and provide support for entrenched rough sleepers to help them off the streets permanently.
Councillor Mitchell said: “It is frightening how quickly someone can find themselves faced with the prospect of sleeping rough and the continuing impacts of welfare reform mean that more people are at risk of becoming homeless.
Through our strategy, we can get in early to help people who are in desperate need of accommodation and support and place them on a path that will not involve worrying about their safety at night because they are forced to sleep rough.”
One strand of the joined up approach to reduce rough sleeping is Nos Da Kernow, a project which sees a team of experienced outreach, housing options and resettlement officers from Cornwall Housing, Coastline and St Petroc’s Society working together to combine knowledge and skills to help those who are facing pressures that could tip them over into rough sleeping.
The Nos Da Kernow project has been shortlisted in the Outstanding Achievement in Tackling Homelessness category at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s UK Housing Awards.
“Nos Da Kernow is a really great example of agencies working together and has so far helped more than 70 people from becoming homeless and in danger of sleeping rough. The strong focus on prevention and early intervention is key. The earlier we are able to help someone the better chance we have of preventing them becoming a rough sleeper,” Councillor Mitchell said.
Shelly, 24, was recently supported by Nos Da Kernow and said: “I don’t know where I would be or what I would have done without Mel and Kieren from the team stepping up for me. Because of their help, I now have a chance.”
Shelly called Cornwall Housing for advice about her then situation and was referred to the Nos Da project. Project worker Mel went on to make contact with Shelly organising for them to meet in a local café due to Shelly’s living situation. Shelly said: “The suggestion to meet in a café put me at ease straightaway, it helped me to feel relaxed and on an equal footing with Mel from the off,” Shelly said.
“Mel supported me in looking for a long-term solution and helped with organising my life so I did not end up sleeping on the streets. With the help of Nos Da, I found a new home. Mel even came to my work so I could sign some time sensitive paperwork, Kieren from the team helped me to get charity funding for the move. The support was unreal! I had bounced around for so long that it still feels strange having stability, but a really nice strange!.”
Another strand is the support for the work carried out by St Petroc’s who deliver the essential outreach service to rough sleepers for Cornwall, and also open a Cold Weather Provision which is operated each winter to provide an additional 8 weeks of basic night time shelter between December and February to those rough sleeping. Cold Weather Provision provides all those partners involved in supporting people to get off the streets, another chance to work together. Cornwall Housing and Addaction staff offer in-reach sessions alongside the St. Petroc’s team increasing contact and taking positive opportunities to help resettle people into accommodation. Last winter 71% of the people accessing this service were moved off the streets into more settled accommodation.
Steve Ellis St Petroc’s CEO says: “It’s important to acknowledge that the situation for rough sleepers is improving in Cornwall. Support for our work has never been more positive and we see the many benefits to working in close partnership with others such as Cornwall Housing, Addaction and Health for Homeless. We are certain that during 2018 as we at St. Petroc’s support Nos Da Kernow’s important prevention work, and other initiatives we are planning, numbers of rough sleepers in Cornwall will continue to reduce.”
There is also specialist support for existing rough sleepers, many of whom have complex needs and housing histories, to help them to move away from the streets permanently. The Cornwall Rough Sleeper Operational Group (CRSOG) which includes Cornwall Council, Cornwall Housing Ltd, Coastline Housing, Voluntary Sector Providers, Safer Cornwall, the Drug and Alcohol Action Team, Devon & Cornwall Police, Public Health (including Mental Health Services) and Inclusion Cornwall work together to help and support individuals with complex needs and develop joint solutions for them.
Amanda Addo Rough Sleeping Strategic Lead for Cornwall Housing says: “This positive figure for 2017 shows all of us that while there is still a great deal of work to do, when we put the individuals who find themselves sleeping on Cornwall’s streets at the centre of how we tailor services, and work together with the agencies who can prevent and alleviate the multiple causes of rough sleeping, incredibly positive results occur”.
Members of the public who have concerns about a rough sleeper in their area should contact the 24 Hour Rough Sleeper Referral Line by calling 0300 500 0914 or visiting the Streetlink website.
Tel: 0300 500 0914
Web site: streetlink.org.uk
The rough sleeper will be contacted by the Street Outreach Team within 24 hours and offered advice, assistance and support to find accommodation.
If anyone is facing difficulties that may affect their current housing situation, it is important to seek advice as soon as possible in order to prevent homelessness. Housing Options is a confidential service and will give specialist advice no matter how big or small the problem may feel.
Please contact Cornwall Housing’s Housing Options team on 0300 1234 161 for free confidential and specialised advice as soon as possible.
Instant advice is also available from: