We know that winter is an especially tough time for those that find themselves homeless or even at risk of becoming homeless. We’re often asked what we have in place to help these people and why funding from other areas of the Council can’t be used to support this work.
Regardless of the time of year our Rehousing Engagement Support Team (REST) is working across the city, reaching out to help homeless people find accommodation and prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place. Our Housing Options service works with a number of social landlords to secure accommodation and also work extensively with private landlords to assist with paying deposits, fees and rent in advance. This has broken down a barrier that could have prevented someone securing housing.
REST was launched on 1st August 2018 and by the end of January the team had helped 326 people who were rough sleeping, into emergency accommodation and 79 people have been found longer term solutions in supported accommodation. Eight people were also helped off the streets by reconnecting them back to their own local authority area.
For those that find themselves without housing, there is help in the city so that no-one has to sleep on the streets overnight during the winter. It is important to remember that our help must be accepted by a person; we cannot force them to accept, and if they say no there is no more we can do at that time. When this happens, we will continue to revisit that person and continually offer support.
During winter, we work with a range of partners to provide extra beds for people who may need them. On the 31st October, the Derby Churches Nightshelter (DNC) opened in addition to bed spaces we already provide at places like Milestone House. The DNC provides 35 bed spaces every night, rotating between seven city centre Churches. If the Nightshelter is ever full, they can accept additional people. All guests are provided with hot drinks and snacks in addition to their bed.
During the day, rough sleepers are able to access the Padley Day Centre which opens at 8.00am and provides breakfast, hot lunches and has support workers on hand. The support workers are able to help rough sleepers with advice about housing and accommodation as well as benefits and any health concerns.
Together, the help we’ve described above all forms part of our Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP). This is a Central Government initiative and unlike other Councils we cover the entire winter period (1st October – 31st March) rather than spells of cold weather where the temperature has to be below freezing for three days or more.
Derby Homes have been working closely with the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) on a further funding opportunity called the Rapid Re-housing Pathway (RRP). This has resulted in Derby being nominated as one of only eleven Local Authority areas to be awarded funding for the delivery of what has been named locally as the “Safe Space”. The £360,700 MHCLG grant will provide a place of safety during the day with a trained paramedic on site to assist with basic health needs and access to a doctor for more complex health needs. Housing advice will be available at the safe space to help individuals with housing needs. Drug and alcohol treatment services will be providing additional support to some of the most vulnerable people accessing the safe space with generic support available 24 hours a day. This new and exciting project is due to be open before the end of March this year.
In addition to this, the Partnership Engagement and Enforcement Programme (PEEP), led by Derby City Council and Derbyshire police, is reducing anti-social behaviour in the city centre. As well as the Police and Cathedral and St Peters Quarter Business Improvement Districts, the partnership includes treatment providers, outreach workers; homeless charities, accommodation providers, and the probation service. The targeted work within the city centre has helped over 40 people access drug and alcohol treatment services with many going on to secure stable, long-term housing.
When it comes to funding our homeless support, it’s not a simple picture. Lots of people ask us why we can’t use funding from different Council Services or projects to support the homeless. The grants we receive for specific projects (like the MHCLG funding) have to be spent on that project. For example, if the Department for Education gives us money for our schools, we can’t then use that money for pothole repairs.