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.”
He said the Council and numerous agencies, such as The Salvation Army, Hope 4 Havering and The Samaritans are geared up to help rough sleepers and to provide them with access to vital support, care, advice and housing services.
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 via https://www.havering.gov.uk/info/20001/housing/331/rough_sleepers_in_havering or via London Street Link, https://www.streetlink.org.uk/
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.