Verbal presentation on rough sleepers outreach work by Kasia Swiatczak.
Following concerns from Community Representatives at previous meetings, as to how to support rough sleepers, Kasia Swiatczak, Outreach worker, was in attendance to inform the Committee of the work of Framework.
The following points were highlighted and questions from the Committee responded to:
(a) The type of support offered by Framework depends on the needs and circumstances of each individual;
(b) Rough sleepers can come from any area of the Country but the Local Authority only has formal responsibility to those with a connection to the City and not to people from other areas or countries;
(c) The Framework Outreach Team aims to engage with all rough sleepers, no matter from where they are from, undertake a welfare check and provide advice on how day centres and night shelters can be accessed (such as Emmanuel House), to which Framework can refer rough sleepers, and other support services appropriate for each individual;
(d) Resources are limited and whilst there are only 8 outreach workers covering the whole of the City, the majority of outreach work takes place with 2 officers from 4am to 8am, Monday to Friday, with daily reports of numbers to the City Council. Efforts are made to keep track of people and maintain contact 2-3 times per week, but time and resources are limited;
(e) There are on average between 50 and 70 known rough sleepers in the City at any one time;
(f) In addition to actively seeking rough sleepers, citizens and partners are requested to contact Framework with details of where rough sleepers are, so they can hopefully be engaged and potentially referred for support such as housing aid, night shelters and hostels;
(g) The majority of support can only be accessed via referral from Framework and partners and very little ‘walk-in’ accommodation and support;
(h) There is often more demand on services and support during winter and particularly in severe weather. Accommodation can be provided but the use of hotels and Bed and Breakfast accommodation is now vastly restricted due to the inappropriate behaviour of some of the rough sleepers previously provided with such accommodation;
(i) As previously referred to in the Police item, there has been a rise in reported rough sleepers in the Sherwood area recently. This is probably due to the generous nature of Sherwood residents but it is not always clear if there is a genuine need or if beggars are seeking to meet addiction needs;
(j) If people really want to give to beggars and rough sleepers, it is always better to provide food and not money. Some people can receive a lot of money from begging on the streets during cold weather when sympathy is high, but if they have accommodation and don’t use it, they can lose it and the funds are often spent elsewhere. There is also the possibility that if able to maintain alcohol and substance misuse, rough sleepers are less likely to seek accommodation and support;
(k) There have been several rough sleeper deaths in the past few years so the outreach team is keen to ensure that they can reach all rough sleepers. When informed of where they are or can be found, Framework aims to make contact within 24 hours or 48 hours maximum;
(l) For some people there is only limited support available such as for failed asylum seekers;
(m) If all rough sleepers within the City were to agree to be referred for accommodation, there would not be enough, but this is being looked at in preparation for this winter and partners such as the Fire and Rescue Service have been forthcoming in offering night space in extreme weather. However, many rough sleepers did not want to share a space with other people, sometimes due to mental health or fear difficulties, and sometimes due to the lucrative begging income during bad weather;
(n) Whilst there has been a slight national decrease in rough sleepers, there has been a slight increase of numbers in Nottingham, but not all are Nottingham citizens;
(o) There are successful outcomes from the outreach work and it is sometimes possible to trace people’s progress into accommodation, but some people refuse to engage at any level or accept any support.
Members of the Committee expressed interest in receiving more information on the different approaches tried and in the success of current outreach methods in getting people into sustained accommodation. As Overview and Scrutiny Committee is currently considering homelessness and rough sleeping, in the interests of efficiency and preventing duplication, it was suggested that the findings of the Scrutiny Review Panel are made available to the Committee once published in September.
If anyone is aware of someone who needs help, or to find out more about the work of Framework, Framework can be contacted as follows:
Telephone: 0115 841 7711
Fax: 0115 960 3985
Post: Framework, Val Roberts House, 25 Gregory Boulevard, Nottingham, NG7 6NX
If a person is sleeping rough or in fear that they may have to, they can call the Framework hotline on 0800 066 53 56.
For website information and contact:http://www.frameworkha.org/about
(1) to record the thanks of the Committee to Kasia for her attendance and presentation;
(2) for the link to the Overview and Scrutiny findings on homelessness and rough sleeping to be made available to the Committee once published.