Havering Council is working with community partners to ensure that nobody is left without a roof over their head over the festive period.
Council teams are working with a number of organisations, charities and services to provide essential support over the winter months and to tackle the root causes of rough sleeping.
Most cases of rough sleeping are complex, with people needing more than just housing support. For known rough sleepers in Havering in 2018, more than 75% had additional mental health, alcohol or drug related issues that needed addressing.
Providing accommodation without addressing these issues can often result in people returning to the streets. By working collaboratively, these complex issues can be addressed to successfully keep people off the streets.
The Council has recently opened its cold weather shelter in Romford to help those rough sleepers over the winter. Partners such as The Salvation Army provide food, showers and sleeping bags, while Hope 4 Havering runs a night shelter with free meals and provides further accommodation. Havering Council and Peabody Trust provide longer-term support for mental health issues, housing and health assistance.
Havering Council are also asking residents to do their part to help tackle rough sleeping this Christmas. The Council recommends that money donated to rough sleepers goes where it can best be used, and is encouraging the public to give directly to the charities and organisations who provide shelter, food, and support, rather than to people who are begging but may have homes and accommodation and are already receiving support.
This week, the Council also launched a consultation on Havering’s new Homelessness Prevention and Rough Sleeper Strategy. The strategy sets out how the Council plans to tackle rough sleeping over the next five years through early intervention, improved partnership working, supporting vulnerable residents and increasing the supply of affordable housing. Residents are being asked to have their say in shaping these plans to end rough sleeping in Havering by visiting www.havering.gov.uk/homelessness.
Councillor Joshua Chapman, Cabinet Member for Housing, said:
“Havering Council is committed to tackling the underlying causes of rough sleeping. We are aware of rough sleepers in the borough and frequently reach out to them to build trust, understand their needs and get them into accommodation.
“But it’s also important to note that not everyone chooses to accept the help or accommodation offered by the Council. We actively seek out rough sleepers to make them aware that help is available.
“Working together with local charities like The Salvation Army and Hope 4 Havering is a vital part of tackling the root causes of rough sleeping and getting people into long-term accommodation. We’re asking residents to do their part by letting us know when they see rough sleepers so that we can assist them.”
If a member of the public does see someone sleeping rough on the streets, they can contact the Council by visiting www.havering.gov.uk/roughsleepers or by using the StreetLink app. Havering Council can then offer support and help them to access the services they need. The rough sleeper will be assessed and helped to be reconnected to their local area if requested.
In 2018/19, 46 rough sleepers were helped off the streets in Havering, with 20 rough sleepers being housed in accommodation by local charity Hope 4 Havering. Others are receiving help from the night shelter run by Hope 4 Havering.