More people sleeping rough in York can safely bed down this winter as extra emergency beds are being offered, whatever the weather, until 28 February 2019.
Senior councillors at City of York Council agreed that the city should go above and beyond the national ‘severe weather scheme’, providing an additional 11 beds to bring the total emergency provision up to 29 beds. These beds will be available in the winter months regardless of whether it’s freezing or not.
Anyone found sleeping rough is encouraged to make themselves known at The Salvation Army’s new Early Intervention and Prevention hub at 63 Lawrence Street, York YO10 3BU between 10 am and noon.
There, they will be allocated one of the city’s 29 emergency beds in keeping with the city’s No Second Night Out scheme. This means that no-one should have to sleep outside.
The Salvation Army’s Charlie Malarkey said: “As a partner for homelessness services in the city, The Salvation Army is a main line of referral for severe weather accommodation and is a safe place where people can find a friendly welcome. At the hub they can engage with service providers and we will work with them to ensure they find the most appropriate accommodation. People can also make the most of our tea and coffee facilities as well as using the computers and internet to connect with family and friends at our drop-in.
“Throughout this colder period our team will be conducting more street walks to identify anyone who is sleeping outdoors and will continue to work with the police, going above and beyond what we already do to ensure that no one slips through the net and is left out in the cold.
“Not everyone wants to take up the offer of accommodation so we will be caring for them by providing ‘survival’ bags.”
Councillor Jenny Brooks, executive member for housing and safer communities, said: “Working with our partners, we’ve created these new beds and, with support from trained volunteers, are making them and existing emergency beds available whatever the weather this winter.
“Rough sleeping has increased by 132 per cent nationally since 2010 and we have secured an extra £193,000 funding for 2018/19 to explore new ways to prevent it as it lowers life expectancy to 47 years.
“With our partners The Salvation Army, Changing Lives, Peasholme Charity, YES Below Zero and Carecent, we are offering all known people sleeping rough help to get off the street and into safer, more stable lifestyles.”
Five of the new emergency beds have been created at a council hostel and are being supported by volunteers from the YES Below Zero scheme. Rough sleepers’ dogs can also be brought into emergency accommodation - this has been the case since 2000.
People coming off the streets are placed in the city’s 101-bed supported lodgings. There, they are offered support and education to help address any of the issues that may have contributed to them becoming homeless. This includes referral to services for mental health or substance misuse and to train them for work and how to manage a tenancy.
Once that stage is successfully underway, they are allocated space in the city’s 90 independent accommodation units before, hopefully, supporting them into either private or affordable fully-independent homes.
Besides the extra beds, the £193,000 extra funding secured for 2018/19 is also funding extra outreach workers to help rough sleepers address complex issues, especially around mental health.
Anyone seeing someone sleeping rough can call Streetlink on 0300 5000 914 to pinpoint their location. This information is shared locally so the teams can go out and offer people a bed and support.