No one needs to spend Christmas on Havering’s streets

Published: Monday, 10 December 2018

Havering is tackling rough sleeping so that no one needs to be on the streets this winter

Havering Council is gearing up ahead of the cold weather to ensure that no rough sleeper is without a roof over their head this Christmas.

Council teams are working with a number of organisations, charities and services to provide essential help and support over the winter months. Partners such as The Salvation Army will provide food, showers and sleeping bags, while Hope 4 Havering runs a night shelter with free meals.

Havering recently took part in a national annual count to get a snapshot of the number of rough sleepers on the borough’s streets at any one time.

Thirty eight volunteers from the Council, charities, police, local residents and other voluntary organisations targeted hotspots around the borough, such as town centres, railway stations and the local hospital and encountered two rough sleepers.

Councillor Joshua Chapman, Cabinet Member for Housing, said:

“The number of rough sleepers we saw during the count is a good sign that the Council are on top of what has become a growing issue all over the country. However, this was just one night and the Council know of at least 12 people sleeping rough.

“The people we see in the day may not necessarily be there in the evening, as some sofa-surf or go elsewhere.

“It’s also important to note that not everyone chooses to accept the help or accommodation offered by the Council. We have actively sought out rough sleepers to make them aware that help is available but unfortunately in some instances they have turned down offers of support.”

The Council is also keen that money donated to rough sleepers goes where it can best be used and is encouraging the public to give directly to the charities and organisations who provide shelter, food, toiletries and haircuts, rather than people who are begging but may have homes and accommodation and are already receiving support.

This year 23 people were helped off the streets in Havering and have been housed with ongoing support provided by Peabody Trust, while a further 20 have been housed by Hope 4 Havering in self-contained move-on properties. Both services secured funding from the Government’s Rough Sleeping Initiative. Others are receiving help from the night shelter run by Hope 4 Havering. The numbers in the night shelter have been falling.

If a member of the public does see someone sleeping rough on the streets, they can contact the Council or use the London Street Link.

We can then offer support and help them to access the services they need. The rough sleeper will be assessed and helped to be reconnected to their local area, if they wish.