Several people have emailed me asking questions about Winchester’s support for homeless people during the recent cold weather. I checked with the council’s Housing Options and Support Manager, Steve Tong, and he’s confirmed that the council is currently taking the following actions:
The Council and its partners undertook a rough sleeper count in accordance with DCLG guidelines on 7th November 2012 which recorded 7 people sleeping rough that night.
Winchester Churches Nightshelter has seventeen regular bed spaces for homeless people. During cold weather in the winter months, the Nightshelter increases its capacity with four additional beds funded by the Council under the terms of the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol. SWEP has operated for several nights in the past month. As well as meals and accommodation, the Nightshelter offers an extensive range of support services to its residents.
Trinity Winchester provides a Day Centre for rough sleepers and homeless people, providing hot meals and drinks, and a range of support, counselling and activities to clients. The Council is providing funding to Trinity to offer a personalised budget to rough sleepers, and currently seven clients are in bed and breakfast accommodation paid for via this arrangement.
In addition the council itself currently has three men in its own homelessness accommodation who were sleeping rough until we accepted them into temporary housing.
An outreach service operates three mornings per week operated by Trinity and the Nightshelter which seeks to work with rough sleepers and ensure they have access to the services available.
There are two known rough sleepers who don’t engage with the available services and up to another ten known homeless individuals who are not sleeping rough, but bedding down with friends & relatives.
The national StreetLink telephone line is now live 0300 5000 914 which enables concerned members of the public to alert local authorities to rough sleepers in their area and the Council is signed-up to responding to any referrals made via this service. The website address is http://www.streetlink.org.uk
Officers are also working with neighbouring authorities to develop an effective sub-regional response to the national ‘No Second Night Out’ programme and discussing with local partner agencies how we can best implement this initiative in Winchester.
If you’re interested in doing something to help local homeless people more directly (and I realise you may be doing this already), the Night Shelter is always looking for donations or volunteers (see http://www.wcns.org.uk/volunteer/) as is Trinity (http://www.trinitywinchester.org.uk/). I know from personal experience doing ‘overnighters’ at the Night Shelter and shaking buckets for Trinity, that more help (and money) is always needed.