As reported by 24housing, the establishment of a new Homelessness Action Group set to examine approaches for ending homelessness and rough sleeping in Wales.
Chaired by Crisis CEO, Jon Sparkes, the group’s focus is on ensuring that the Welsh government’s work with other organisations on homelessness is effective.
Following the publication of their first report, which outlines short-term recommendations and longer-term measures to prevent rough sleeping in Wales, Housing Minister Julie James has confirmed that she is “already working to put these recommendations in place.”
Recommendations from the report include:
- Focusing in particular on tackling rough sleeping in Swansea, Cardiff Newport and Wrexham
- Ensuring there is enough appropriate emergency and temporary accommodation for people who would otherwise be forced to sleep rough
- Funding and training enough assertive outreach workers to support people off the streets and into appropriate accommodation this winter
- Overcoming legal and procedural barriers and misunderstandings that currently prevent people sleeping rough from accessing the support that they need; Housing associations, councils and the Welsh Government should use their collective resources to maximise the number of social homes available to be let to homeless households, in particular to those people who would otherwise sleep rough
- Making sure the public know how to help people who are homeless
On the report, Jon Sparkes said: “Having a safe and decent home is a basic need and it’s simply wrong that there are people across Wales who do not have one.
“Rough sleeping is the most extreme and dangerous form of homelessness, so I’m pleased that the Welsh Government, local councils and support services will work together urgently this winter to help more people away from the street and into settled accommodation.
“The best way to deal with rough sleeping – and all forms of homelessness – is to stop them happening in the first place. That’s why I’m looking forward to the next phase of the Action Group’s work, which will make recommendations on the steps we need to take in Wales to end homelessness for good.”
In immediate response to the report, James has confirmed that the Welsh Government will:
- Facilitate and fund joint training for all those who provide and support outreach services in Wales, but particularly in the four focus areas. This training will support the development of a better shared understanding of assertive outreach approaches. Training will be provided on an area basis in the four focus areas. Further training will be provided on a pan Wales basis
- Publish clear guidance, written by those with experience of delivering assertive outreach, on what constitutes a genuinely assertive outreach approach
- Work with the four focus areas to identify mentors for those who undertake outreach work. The mentors will be able to offer support and guidance to help ensure all outreach is purposeful and has impact
- Provide funding, where needed, to facilitate the appointment of an outreach coordinator and rough sleeper case manager in each of the four focus areas. The coordinator’s role will be to ensure that outreach provided by the range of organisations that operate across the areas is well coordinated and most effective. The case manager’s role will be to make the necessary links to other agencies to support effective development and implementation of personal rapid rehousing plans for each individual engaged
- Support a daily ‘case conference’ approach in each of the four focus areas to review and progress individualised plans focussed on supporting individuals to move away from rough sleeping
- Facilitate conversations designed to ensure appropriate multi-agency engagement with the daily case conferences to ensure urgent referral to services where they are key to moving individuals off the street
- Work with front line workers to identify and address barriers to accessing support. This might include clarification on the application of legislation and policy and the potential for use of personal budgets to empower front line workers to be able to respond immediately to individual needs
- Identify emergency provision within the four focus areas making available a small fund to ensure provision is of suitable quality and variety to meet the differing needs of rough sleeping populations
- Bring together housing providers in the four focus areas to identify potential temporary and long term housing that can help address the rehousing needs of rough sleepers
- Work with key stakeholders to agree and share a common set of messages about homelessness and to issue clear messages to the general public about how to help people who are homeless and rough sleeping including how to contact services
- Evaluate the activity undertaken this winter to identify what has worked most effectively and ensure our long term plans incorporate good practice identified
Julie James said: “I’m extremely grateful to the group for working so quickly to produce recommendations to put into practice this winter.
“Rough sleeping is an issue across all areas of Wales – however I accept the group’s suggestion that we should focus on the four areas where rough sleeping numbers are at the highest, whilst not excluding or ignoring needs elsewhere.
“I’m under no illusion that this is a problem we can solve overnight, but I’m determined that we will match the Homelessness Action Group’s pace and energy in our response this winter. We are already working to put these recommendations in place.”