With freezing temperatures returning, Reading as a town again expects to see an increase in the number of potential rough sleepers arriving in our town. The Council, St Mungo's and other charities work together in Reading to offer people beds and access to support services which help people off the streets, services which are often no available elsewhere. Unfortunately, Council officers have told me that it is possible that the number of potential rough sleepers arriving in the town may rise even further in the coming year, and I am concerned that the economic situation means that Reading will no longer be able to buck the national trend.
The Tories are failing on rough sleeping nationally and there is only so much that Labour local authorities like Reading can do - for now in Reading we are managing the increased need but for how much longer?
Reading Borough Council Press Release below:
As the cold snap returns this week, Reading Borough Council and its partners will again be working hard to ensure that fewer people will be sleeping rough on the streets of the town.
During this cold weather period, the Council works with partners such as St Mungo's, Hamble Court, Salvation Army, Waylen Street and Launchpad to ensure that anyone found rough sleeping is offered emergency accommodation, support and advice so that they do not have to remain on the street. The agencies involved use this as an opportunity to work with rough sleepers and encourage them to remain in accommodation for the long term. This partnership arrangement has existed for many years and is activated whenever the Met Office forecasts three nights or more with a minimum temperature of 0°C or below. Last year, over the winter period 46 people were offered emergency accommodation; 40% of those accommodated in SWEP were from out of the Borough.
St Mungos are commissioned by the Council to work with rough sleepers all year round to try and encourage them to take up accommodation and health services that may be required. Newly arising rough sleepers increased from 184 in 2010/11 to 230 in 2011/12. So far this year the team have dealt with 119 new rough sleepers, 55 of which came from outside the borough. Despite these numbers, fewer people actually have to resort to sleeping rough on the streets of Reading because of the work of the Council and its partners. The average number of people sleeping rough on any given night fell from 6 in 2010/2011 to just 4 at the present time..
Like London, Reading has a diverse community and a robust economy which attracts many into the town and increases the pressure on housing and on the Council's homelessness prevention service. To address these pressures, the Council developed a Homeless Pathway for single homeless people requiring supported housing and improved services whilst achieving budget savings.
Up against the pressures of increasing homelessness, the Council and its partners have been able to engage with more people supporting them into finding accommodation, accessing health services and more. Extensive work is also carried out to reconnect people who have moved into Reading to services from the area they came from.
Notes for Editors: It has been reported by the specialist housing press that London has seen the number of rough sleepers rise by 31% as of the end of October 2012 compared to the same period in 2011 (http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/6524836.article).
The homeless charity Crisis has also reported that the number of rough sleepers across Britain has soared by 23% to 2,183 in the past year.
Reading Borough council Press Releases can be found online at http://www.reading.gov.uk/news/pressreleases/
Media Contact: Dalitso Njolinjo
Tel: 0118 937 3957