Blaz­ing a trial to pre­vent hom­less­ness

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Town Hall View -

The mat­ter of home­less­ness and rough sleep­ing is a topic that has at­tracted sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­est in the me­dia in re­cent weeks.

It’s an im­por­tant and sen­si­tive is­sue not just on a lo­cal level, but also on the re­gional and na­tional agenda. I want to take this op­por­tu­nity to talk about it a lit­tle more and some new ini­tia­tives we are work­ing to­wards.

In Peter­bor­ough it is es­ti­mated there are 21 peo­ple sleep­ing rough, up from 15 last year. Na­tion­ally, the 2015 rough sleep­ing count showed that 3,569 peo­ple were rough sleep­ing in Eng­land on a sin­gle night, up 102 per cent from 2010.

This fig­ure is ex­pected to rise for 2016.

Re­spon­si­bil­ity for the man­age­ment of rough sleep­ers in Peter­bor­ough and the sup­port ser­vices avail­able to them sits within our Hous­ing Needs depart­ment. They work closely with the Pre­ven­tion and En­force­ment Ser­vice and our part­ner agen­cies in­clud­ing the po­lice.

We have a ded­i­cated rough sleeper out­reach worker who is cur­rently work­ing with 16 rough sleep­ers in an at­tempt to get them off the streets and into ap­pro­pri­ate and safe ac­com­mo­da­tion.

How­ever, not ev­ery­one wants to ac­cept our of­fer of help; five rough sleep­ers known to us are re­fus­ing to en­gage with ser­vices. We never give up on those peo­ple and per­sis­tently try and work with them.

How­ever, we are aware that some peo­ple sleep­ing rough have their own se­cure ac­com­mo­da­tion to re­turn home to and choose to sleep rough ei­ther to sup­port beg­ging ac­tiv­ity or sim­ply be­cau- se they want to sleep on the streets.

Although hous­ing is at a pre­mium, the fact re­mains that ev­ery­one who finds them­selves home­less has an of­fer of ac­com­mo­da­tion from us. There is no need for any­body to sleep rough in Peter­bor­ough and not ev­ery town and city adopts this ap­proach.

There are a range of ser­vices and op­tions that are of­fered to ev­ery rough sleeper but we want to do more.

Last Novem­ber, the gov­ern­ment pub­lished de­tails of £40 mil­lion fund­ing to sup­port lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and other agen­cies to for­mu­late in­no­va­tive ideas in or­der to im­prove home­less­ness pro­vi­sion for those who need it.

In the first bid­ding round, we suc­cess­fully sub­mit­ted a joint bid in part­ner­ship with the other Cam­bridgeshire coun­cils and we are now a Home­less­ness Pre­ven­tion Trail- blazer area.

Ini­tia­tives we want to in­tro­duce in­clude the cre­ation of a home­less­ness pre­ven­tion hub, which will al­low land­lords and other agen­cies to high­light house­holds at po­ten­tial risk of home­less­ness.

I also want to in­tro­duce a set of so­lu­tions for Peter­bor­ough that sup­port rough sleep­ers off the streets where they en­gage with us, man­ages rough sleep­ers off the streets where they are not en­gag­ing with us, and makes our streets feel safe and wel­com­ing for all our res­i­dents and vis­i­tors.

To achieve this I be­lieve it re­quires the sup­port and in­put from across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum, and so I will be ask­ing our Adults and Com­mu­ni­ties Scru­tiny Com­mit­tee to work with of­fi­cers to rec­om­mend ac­tions and in­ter­ven­tions that re­solve the chal­lenge. To start the process I have asked of­fi­cers to ar­range a brief­ing for all coun­cil­lors at the start of Fe­bru­ary.

I have also ar­ranged a walk­a­bout in known rough sleeper hotspot lo­ca­tions to which mem­bers of the Adults and Com­mu­ni­ties Scru­tiny Com­mit­tee and the five Group Lead­ers will be in­vited.

This will help ev­ery­one to ex­pe­ri­ence the is­sues first hand, be­fore mov­ing into a more for­mal process of cross­party work­ing.

If there is any­thing fur­ther we can do to pre­vent peo­ple be­com­ing home­less in the first place, or to en­cour­age peo­ple sleep­ing rough to take up our sup­port, then of course we want to know about it.

An an­nual ser­vice to re­mem­ber the suf­fer­ing and sac­ri­fice of mil­lions of peo­ple killed in geno­cides in­clud­ing the Holo- caust takes place next week.

This year’s event to mark Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Day is at St John the Bap­tist Church, on Thurs­day, Jan­uary 26. Do at­tend this ser­vice at 12 noon if you are able to.

Sac­ri­fice is a key theme for an­other event I am proud to be at­tend­ing.

Peter­bor­ough World War Two vet­eran Ed­die Hall will be awarded the Lé­gion d’hon­neur for his ser­vice in the lib­er­a­tion of France in the Sec­ond World War.

Mr Hall, now a great­grand­fa­ther who lives in Gun­thorpe, will be pre­sented with the pres­ti­gious ac­co­lade on be­half of the French gov­ern­ment.

Now aged 91, Mr Hall was just a teenager when he took to the English Chan­nel in his role as a Royal Navy radar op­er­a­tor.

I look for­ward to meet­ing him.

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