Help for rough-sleepers

Press Release: 25/01/2013

No one needs to sleep rough on the streets of Winchester during severe weather – that is the message from Winchester City Council.

As part of its severe weather emergency protocol, the City Council makes it a priority to take rough-sleepers off the streets principally using the Winchester Night Shelter and, in the daytime, the Trinity Centre.

Winchester City Council and its partners undertook a rough-sleeper count in accordance with national guidelines on 7 November 2012 and recorded seven people sleeping rough that night.

Cllr Tony Coates, Portfolio Holder for Housing for Winchester City Council, said

The recent spell of severe weather has prompted a number of queries and concerns about rough-sleepers and people can be assured that this is a responsibility we take very seriously.

The City Council has special arrangements in place to help rough-sleepers in the event of severe weather and these have come into force several times in the past month. We aim to make sure that there is a bed available for anyone who needs and wants one during cold nights.

Winchester Churches Nightshelter has 17 regular bed spaces for homeless people. During cold weather in the winter months, the Nightshelter increases its capacity with four additional beds funded by Winchester City Council as part of its severe weather emergency protocol. As well as meals and accommodation the Nightshelter offers an extensive range of support services to its residents.

Trinity Winchester provides a day centre for rough-sleepers and homeless people, providing hot meals and drinks and a range of support, counselling and activities for clients. Winchester City Council provides funding to Trinity to offer a personalised budget to rough-sleepers and currently seven clients are in bed-and-breakfast accommodation paid for via this arrangement.

In addition the City Council currently has three men in its own homelessness accommodation who were sleeping rough until they were accepted into temporary housing. The Council directly operates four hostels for homeless people in Winchester City and a fifth in the southern parishes. Together these properties provide 39 units of accommodation.

An outreach service is run three mornings a week by Trinity and the Nightshelter which seeks to work with rough-sleepers and ensure they have access to the services available.

There are two known rough-sleepers who do not take advantage of the available services and up to another 10 known homeless individuals who are not sleeping rough but bedding down with friends and relatives.

The national StreetLink telephone line – 0300 500 0914 - enables concerned members of the public to alert local authorities to rough sleepers in their area and Winchester City Council responds to any referrals made via this service.

Officers are also working with neighbouring authorities to develop an effective local response to the national ‘No Second Night Out’ programme and discussing with partners how best to implement the initiative in Winchester.