Cornwall Council and its partners welcome drop in the number of rough sleepers

Cornwall Council and its partners have welcomed another drop in the number of rough sleepers recorded on Cornwall’s streets.

The latest figures, released this week, suggest a co-ordinated action plan to tackle the issue is continuing to have a positive effect, with a 22% drop in the latest count.

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This makes a 46% reduction in the total number of rough sleepers recorded since November 2016.

Official figures show that whilst Cornwall still has a relatively high numbers of rough sleepers, 53 individuals were reported as rough sleeping compared to 68 reported in November 2017 and 99 the year prior to that.

The figures come from the annual estimate on the number of rough sleepers in Cornwall counted on a typical night in November 2018, and follow published guidance from the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG). All local authorities undertake an estimate or a count at this time of year.

Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Member for Homes Andrew Mitchell said: “Through the Council’s Rough Sleeper Reduction Strategy and the MHCLG-funded Rough Sleeper Initiative, the Council has worked with its partners to introduce new support services and it is evident that this is making a continued impact in keeping people off the streets.

“The excellent partnerships that work with rough sleepers need to keep the momentum going as we are still committed to ensuring that no one is forced to sleep rough in Cornwall and we continue to work to make that goal a reality.”

In July 2017, the Council launched a £1.1 million approach to preventing and reducing rough sleeping with £850,000 coming from Cornwall Housing and £292,000 from a successful bid to the previously named Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) for Nos Da Kernow (No First Night Out).  In July 2018, MHCLG awarded the Council £437,489, with a further provisional award of £625,009 for 2019/20.

The principle behind the strategy is to step in early to help those threatened with having to sleep rough as well as improving greater access to transitional housing and support services. 

The multi-agency rough sleeper reduction strategy works to:

  • prevent rough sleeping in the first place by helping those most at risk
  • help new rough sleepers quickly access housing, help and support 
  • identify and provide support for entrenched rough sleepers to help them off the streets permanently. 

Councillor Mitchell said: “We need to remember just how quickly someone can find themselves faced with the prospect of sleeping rough, and sadly, the continuing impacts of welfare reform mean that more people are at risk of finding themselves in that predicament. 

“We are managing to get in early to help people who are in desperate need of accommodation and support and place them on a path that will not involve worrying about their safety at night because they are forced to sleep rough.”

New initiatives introduced this year include additional Assertive Outreach Workers and Cold Weather Provision in Penzance, both delivered in partnership with St Petroc’s and 6 additional crisis beds, delivered in partnership with Coastline Housing. 

“The reasons why people become homeless is very complicated and the longer someone remains on the street, the more difficult it can be to move them back into settled accommodation. The strong focus on prevention and early intervention through effective partnership working is key. There is no sole service or agency responsible for addressing rough sleeping and multi-agency approaches prove to be the most effective means of tackling rough sleeping,” Councillor Mitchell said.

There is also specialist support for existing rough sleepers, many of whom have complex needs and housing histories, to help them to move away from the streets permanently.  The Cornwall Rough Sleeper Operational Group (CRSOG) which  includes Cornwall Council, Cornwall Housing Ltd, Coastline Housing, Voluntary Sector Providers, Safer Cornwall, the Drug and Alcohol Action Team, Devon & Cornwall Police, Public Health (including Mental Health Services) and Inclusion Cornwall work together to help and support individuals with complex needs and develop joint solutions for them.

Steve Ellis, CEO at St Petroc’s, said:  “We are really pleased the partnership is reducing the numbers. We all acknowledge we still have much work to do, but are totally committed to ending rough sleeping in Cornwall. 

“All partners will continue to work diligently together to meet this aim.” 

Allister Young, CEO at Coastline Housing, said:  “Partnership working in Cornwall is having a positive impact but there remains much more to do.

“The dual approach of the additional 6 beds is reaching those already in crisis, whilst the Nos Da Kernow project is working hard to prevent homelessness by stopping anyone having to spend that terrible first night on the streets  

“It is critical that we continue to work together to improve lives and reduce homelessness in Cornwall.”

Jude Cross,  Rough Sleeping Strategic Lead for Cornwall Housing said: “Cornwall demonstrates that excellent partnership working is key to preventing and alleviating rough sleeping.

“The way in which agencies work together to tailor solutions that meet an individual’s needs is proof that personalised approaches can yield really positive results.

“Whilst we still have more work to do, we are now starting to see a sustained outcome from the Rough Sleeping Reduction Strategy and this gives us a really positive base to build upon for the future.”

Story posted 17 December 2018