Work to support the homeless by City of Wolverhampton’s innovative multi-agency operational group is reaping major rewards during the coronavirus outbreak.
Since the crisis began more than 50 people either facing the threat of homelessness or who were rough sleeping have been successfully moved on from the city’s emergency shelter into long-term safe, suitable, and sustainable accommodation.
The operational group, which has been running for three years and is led by City of Wolverhampton Council’s Housing and Public Health teams, has also supported 20 clients into treatment for substance misuse during the pandemic.
A city hotel has kindly opened its doors to provide emergency accommodation that meets the Government’s social distancing guidelines and offers a secure place to self-isolate during the crisis. This is supporting those who were in shared emergency accommodation, people sofa surfing who were asked to leave due to coronavirus fears, single people who have been made homeless, and rough sleepers.
Key service providers are running the site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and have so far safeguarded over 100 people from the streets, also providing them with the best possible holistic support. This includes support with benefits, wellbeing and access to medication.
Councillor Ian Brookfield, City of Wolverhampton Council Leader, said:
“Nobody has to sleep outside in our city and nobody has to go hungry.
“Many of those who are homeless have complex needs, including physical and mental health problems. Our Public Health and Housing teams’ partnership approach with homelessness organisations across the city is delivering positive results.
“We are supporting people into accommodation and giving them access to the services they need, meaning the number of rough sleepers on our streets is falling.
“However, there is still more to do, and the council continues to actively work with its partner agencies to find longer-term solutions for preventing someone from becoming homeless in the first place and rough sleeping in the city.”
Operational group partners include: Wolverhampton Homes, St George’s Hub, P3, Enterprise Homes Group (Night Shelter), Good Shepherd, Recovery Near You, RMC, Wolverhampton BID, Solace, Changing Lives, Police, A&E Security, Wolverhampton CCG, Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, food services (Good Shepherd, Outreach 4 Wolverhampton, Sant Ashram, Midland Langar, Helping Hands, Sedgley Street Sikh Gurdwara), Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, and Probation services.
Councillor Jacqueline Sweetman, City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Assets and Housing, added:
“This is all in addition to the work that partners are carrying out to support some of Wolverhampton’s most vulnerable residents.
“Everyone involved has been working hard to adjust to the increase in demand on roles and services, whilst working to keep all staff and clients safe.
“The work during the coronavirus crisis has built on the collaborative, partnership working approach to services for homeless individuals and rough sleepers in Wolverhampton.
“The positive relationships between partners at all levels have meant that residents receive the best service possible which is having real outcomes.
“There have been many positive success stories with some residents, who are entrenched rough sleepers, engaging with services for the first time or after a long break.”
P3 Head of Services for the West Midlands, Sam Bailey, said:
“The P3 Wolverhampton team have continued to deliver an extraordinary level of support to vulnerable and socially excluded people across the city.
“By working with our commissioners and partner agencies in Wolverhampton we have been able to help so many people. Together, we pulled out all the stops. It’s taken hard work, determination and skill to accomplish this, with a good dose of kindness, compassion and empathy too.”
For details on how to contact support services to help those experiencing rough sleeping, visit www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/article/12771/Rough-sleepers.
People can also help the homeless and rough sleepers by donating money to the city’s Alternative Giving Campaign via www.justgiving.com/alternativegiving.