Vulnerable people in Southampton now have a safe place to stay and the prospect of a positive future, following efforts by Southampton City Council and partner agencies to protect rough sleepers and those at risk of becoming homeless during the coronavirus pandemic.
The council’s Street Homeless Prevention Team has been doing enhanced outreach work since mid-March 2020 – when the pandemic started, and the Government issued its “everyone in” directive – to locate rough sleepers and urge them to take up the offer of accommodation.
Health practitioners have joined the team three days a week to assess people’s needs and tailor care to their circumstances, while extra emergency B&B spaces have been made available to offer protection during periods of extreme weather.
This is in addition to the usual spaces and welfare support SCC, alongside local charities, faith groups and voluntary organisations, provides throughout the year.
From 23 March 2020 to 22 January 2021, support staff individually assessed:
- 145 people who were allocated spaces in emergency B&B accommodation
- 382 people who moved into more settled, rented accommodation
And now, as lockdown restrictions continue, efforts have been made to ensure rough sleepers:
- Are offered accommodation, even if they’ve rejected it in the past
- Benefit from ‘intervention’ support if they are new to living on the streets
- Receive help to register with a GP
- Get access to a COVID-19 jab (depending on their vaccine prioritisation status)
Plus the council has recently welcomed £120,000 of funding from the government’s Protect Programme which can be used until the end of March 2021 to “double up” its support measures.
Councillor Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Homes and Culture, Southampton City Council, said: “The pandemic has been tough for all of us, but especially for the most vulnerable in our society. While rough sleeping in a national problem, I’m pleased that in Southampton, we’ve been able to join forces with health care providers and local charities to make a collective effort to protect rough sleepers from COVID-19 and support them with their wider needs.
“Everyone deserves shelter and a chance to rebuild their lives and I’m proud that as a city we’ve taken hundreds off the streets and provided safe accommodation; an accolade to everyone’s efforts and strong partnership working. However, we know there are still people who need help and we will continue to do what we can to support them.”
SCC collaborates with other agencies in the city via the Street Support Network – a resource which connects people and organisations so that rough sleepers can get help and members of the public can give responsibly.
Members of the public can report cases of rough sleeping to the Street Homeless Prevention Team on 023 8083 2343 or email@example.com
People needing emergency shelter can visit Homeless Day Centre at 30 Cranbury Avenue, Southampton SO14 0LT. The day centre provides facilities for people to have a shower, use the laundry, enjoy a hot meal, access IT equipment and receive health advice from medical professionals.