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Agencies rally to improve services for rough sleepers

Published Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Organisations that work with rough sleepers to provide food, warmth, help with health issues, finding secure temporary accommodation, and who can work with individuals to help with often chaotic lives

Organisations that work with rough sleepers to provide food, warmth, help with health issues, finding secure temporary accommodation, and who can work with individuals to help with often chaotic lives have secured a unit in the City Arcade for up to five days a week.

Steps for Change, which is made up of a group of organisations that work with rough sleepers, currently operate from a venue in Hertford Street on a Thursday.

It’s been operating successfully with the support of The Arc (Ayriss Recovery Coventry C.I.C), the Salvation Army, Langar Aid, Crisis, the Police and the Council.

Louise Morley from The Arc, said that on any Thursday they can see between 25 and 40 rough sleepers who often will use the venue as a safe place to seek help and support.

She said that agencies have been working hard in recent weeks to extend the services that Steps for Change provide, and said that it is a major breakthrough to secure a new shop unit where they can potentially provide support for up to five days a week.

Louise said: “There has been a lot of great work between us all and now that contracts have been signed on the new venue it will provide us with an opportunity to provide more concerted help.

“The key for us to help people break the cycle of rough sleeping and dependency. We want to give people a sense of hope, even if that means taking small steps. Being able to sit with someone in a warm and welcoming environment where people are not being judged but can just be recognised as a person is a start.

Louise said she has seen so much good will to get the project extended to five days. The key now was to work with agencies and talk to rough sleepers to find out the best way to make it a success.

She added: “We are planning a clean-up day on Friday 17 May when we will be inviting businesses to join us to get the new unit refurbished and ready to use. A week or so after we’ll be aiming to open and we are just planning some housekeeping in terms of opening hours, staffing etc. It is all very exciting, but we want to get it absolutely right.”

Rough sleepers have often been sleeping on the streets long term and have a range of health issues they need help to overcome. Steps for Change acts as a link to other support.

Louise said: “The ideal purpose of the unit will be to help people on the road to recovery. That’s what we aim to do!”

She said: “Encouraging people to engage with support services and to seek the help and support can prove difficult because there is an underlying suspicion about more formal public and voluntary sector services. It’s about finding solutions.”

Once the new unit is up and running there will be opportunities for businesses and volunteers to support Steps for Change.  

In 2018 there were around eight rough sleepers in the city centre and now there are around 25. At the same time there are more than 300 families in temporary accommodation.

A homelessness forum has been set up and meets regularly where agencies work in a co-ordinated way to provide short term accommodation and shelter to vulnerable people.

Anyone who wants general support and advice should visit coventry.gov.uk/roughsleepers

 

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