Tackling rough sleeping in Newark and Sherwood
A targeted partnership approach to tackling rough sleeping is helping keep numbers of people living on the streets relatively low in Newark and Sherwood.
The district has witnessed a fall in the figures since 2010 while statistics nationally have seen an increase to 4,751 people who were counted or estimated to be bedding down outside in autumn 2017, a 15 per cent rise on the year previous.
However, Newark and Sherwood District Council is guarding against complacency and is aware of the challenges that lie ahead, particularly in view of the continuing changes in available support for those who are genuinely street homeless.
The district council works with partner agency Framework and charities to deal with street homelessness and associated issues. With the Community Safety Partnership, Framework employs a complex needs worker to deal with individuals who are identified as needing support. Framework also provides a Street Outreach Team (SOT) and both initiatives have been key in dealing successfully with cases of homelessness in the district.
The aim is to protect and reduce the number of street homeless and the associated problems of anti-social behaviour, including harassment and street disturbances.
The council is also aware of a number of individuals who are begging in the town centre and we may take a different approach to dealing with this issue.
The public are being asked to help in identifying cases of street homelessness through StreetLink which exists to offer a lifeline to those in desperate need. By making contact you can connect people sleeping rough with the local services that can support them by sending an alert via the website or calling SOT directly on 0800 066 53 56. Details provided are sent to the district council or the SOT who will look for the individual and try to connect them to support.
Councillor Bruce Laughton, chairman of the district council’s homes and communities committee, said: "Although figures of street homelessness are increasing nationally, at a local level we are managing to keep things even and have actually seen a reduction in the figures of street homelessness by putting the right support in place for those who are sleeping rough. We will continue to take a proactive approach to help combat the issues of street homelessness and to help eradicate the problem."
The SOT engages with rough sleepers and helps assess the extent of street homelessness. It works in the early hours of the morning to identify those in the greatest need of support and actively looks for rough sleepers in known hotspots or responds to self-referrals, agency referrals or reports from the public.
A drop-in service is also run by local charity Impact every Monday night (7.30pm) at the Baptist church in Newark and the Alive Church in Newark runs a lunch club every Thursday.
The district council also opens a night shelter when outside temperatures are forecast to fall below 0C degrees on three consecutive nights or more. Individuals using the facilities receive advice and support from the district council in an effort to prevent them from returning to the streets.
The council has recently recruited a number of new volunteers to help out at the shelter.
The council also has short term accommodation in both Newark and Ollerton to provide accommodation to those in need (and deemed statutory homeless).