At last night’s Council meeting (23rd Jan) councillors in Bromsgrove voted cross-party to look at ways to increase awareness of what to do when you or someone you know is faced with sudden homelessness.
The figures for homelessness in Bromsgrove are low and both Bromsgrove and Worcestershire County Council operate preventative and emergency measures to deal with the problem. In the last year, the County Council identified 4 priorities for dealing with homelessness: 1) early preventation for single people and childless couples 2) address housing and support needs for people with complex needs 3) improve access to settled housing for those in temporary accommodation 4) improve resilience to prevent homelessness occurring in lifetime. Bromsgrove District Council funds housing services locally, and recently has also approved a funding package for local charities.
Cllr Kit Taylor explained some of the work that has taken place recently, saying: “Members will be aware that traditionally Bromsgrove has no track record of rough sleeping, but in the past few months we have needed to assist several people who have required emergency help with housing because they have had nowhere to live. Not all of these people had a local connection to the district but we decided to help them nevertheless, and with success, securing accommodation for those who needed it.”
Cllr Margaret Sherrey, a district councillor and trustee of the Basement Project said: “We are also fortunate to have the Basement Project, a charity that supports young people under the age of 25 with housing and general life needs, and helps to work to avoid homelessness by helping people tackle debt, live on a budget, and helping with family mediation.”
Leader of the Council Geoff Denaro said: “There are two ways in which we as a Council work to combat homelessness: dealing with emergency homelessness and working to prevent the conditions that lead to homelessness, which can be family breakdown, debt or sudden job loss.”
Full text of Cllr Taylor’s speech:
Members will be aware that traditionally Bromsgrove has no track record of rough sleeping, but in the past few months we have needed to assist several people who have required emergency help with housing because they have had nowhere to live. Not all of these people had a local connection to the district but we decided to help them nevertheless, and with success, securing accommodation for those who needed it.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our specialist support provider, Caring for Communities and People for all the hard work they put into helping vulnerable people to access housing when they need it and also to thank the local community and churches for all their efforts on this front too.
I would advise Council that we have taken a number of steps to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping in Bromsgrove. We fund BDHT to provide housing services locally, and earlier this month Cabinet approved a funding package for a wide range of local charities who work in this field for the year ahead. As I have already mentioned we also have CCP working with vulnerable people in our area too, and if someone does end up on the streets this service links up with them immediately. I should also mention that this year we have worked collaboratively with providers in Redditch to enable anyone in Bromsgrove requiring emergency accommodation during cold weather to be able to access the Salvation Army provision available there.
That said, Cllr McDonald is still right to remind us that residents need to know how to connect with these excellent providers.
So I am pleased to be able to say that officers, together with the Town Centre Partnership, are in the process of finalising a public information leaflet on ‘how to help a rough sleeper’. This leaflet will explain that residents concerned for the welfare of someone should contact Streetlink, the national help line for rough sleeping, who will then trigger a local response at speed via CCP. Other helpful contacts and information will also be contained in the leaflet of course.
I should point out a couple of other things in terms of profile raising with local residents. Firstly, I would say that we information on the council’s website about helping rough sleepers, and we have also met with town centre street traders to talk them through how to help when they see someone they’re worried about. We are also putting information about how to help a rough sleeper into our council tax leaflet which will go out to all households in Bromsgrove shortly.
I trust my answer reassures members that we are doing everything we can to ensure that rough sleeping continues to remain a rarity not the norm in Bromsgrove, and that we are also taking all necessary steps to help local residents know who to contact if they see something that concerns them.