With the weather getting colder, West Suffolk Council is reminding people to report anyone they see or suspect is rough sleeping via www.streetlink.org.uk
Earlier this month the council secured up to £52,000 of additional funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Cold Weather Fund, money that will be used to increase the range of options available to help rough sleepers into support and accommodation this winter.
West Suffolk activated its Severe Weather Emergency Protocols in November giving it greater access to emergency accommodation. The council continues to offer support and accommodation throughout the year to homeless people including those who are rough sleeping and it assists people in claiming benefits where they are eligible to do so.
Sara Mildmay-White, Cabinet Member for Housing at West Suffolk Council, said: “We have a rough sleeper support team in place that has been working hard not just to help people get and accept the support and accommodation that they need, but also intervening when things go wrong and doing everything they possibly can to prevent people ending back on the streets. Since our team was formed in September 2018 it has reduced the number of people rough sleeping across West Suffolk from 36 down to 20 as of October 2019 and it has done this by getting people the help and accommodation that they need.
“We also have accommodation options in place across West Suffolk. We are not opening a winter night shelter as we know a lot of our rough sleepers need different kinds of specialist support. It works better for the rough sleepers and we are able to give them more help when we have a range of accommodation available for us to use rather than a night shelter. They also get to remain in the accommodation throughout the day.
“We ask that if you do see or suspect someone is rough sleeping that you report it straight away at www.streetlink.org.uk – that way our rough sleeper support team will get an alert and, if they are not already trying to help that individual, they can go out and speak to them to try to get them the support and accommodation that they need. You can also report rough sleeping by telephoning 01284 757178.
“We also encourage people not to give money to people that they see on the streets during the day, many of whom are already accommodated and have a place to sleep at night, but to instead donate to the Bury Drop In’s Looking for Change campaign.”
The Bury Drop In charity, staffed by volunteers, has a strong track record of helping homeless people. While donations to someone on the street could go towards food or a coffee, money donated to the Bury Drop-In not only helps get food and a warm drink but also a roof over their head, support, improved health including access to dental services, education, clean clothes, a job and to reconnect with their families if they want to.
To text donate type BSE followed by the amount you want to give – so for £5 type BSE5 and send to 70085. You can also donate online at https://burydropin.echoleft.com/fundraising/bury-looking-for-change/donate
Pictured above are Sophia, Linda, Paul and Phil who are part of the rough sleeper support team at West Suffolk Council, with PCSO Mark Ellis, David Bonnett from the charity Bury Drop In and West Suffolk Cabinet Member for Housing Sara Mildmay-White.