More help will be available to people sleeping rough in Southampton after the Labour-led council secured funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) Rough Sleepers’ Grant.
Southampton City Council will receive £400,000 over two years, which will be used to help rough sleepers in the city by offering 24 hour intensive support, accommodation and crisis intervention. The application was developed with input from across the council, and by working in partnership with local homelessness charity Two Saints.
Labour Councillor Warwick Payne, cabinet member for Housing & Adult Care, said: “We already offer a lot of help to Southampton’s homeless community and thanks to this very welcome grant we’ll be able to provide more assistance. We especially want to intervene when people are at risk of becoming homeless or have just arrived on the street, as this is perhaps the best chance we have of getting people to accept help.
It’s a major frustration that help is on hand to the homeless in Southampton, but is often refused. There are hostel beds available for most rough sleepers in the city and services are available for those sleeping rough with help routinely offered to them. We aim to use this grant funding to encourage more people – especially those not yet accustomed to life on the streets – to accept the help and turn their lives around.
It should also be kept in mind that not all homeless people beg, and not all beggars are homeless. In response to feedback from the majority of residents we’re taking action on antisocial begging through our PSPO, but also offering additional assistance to the genuinely homeless. We will always help those who are willing to accept our help.”
Last year the council launched the ‘Begging you for lasting change’ poster campaign across the city, which has one very simple message: give to charities not individuals - your money will be used more effectively this way. The campaign, which works in partnership with local homelessness charities Two Saints and The Society of St James, aims to raise awareness of the issue of street begging and to encourage people to make donations directly to these charities via text message. This way the council hope to help provide a longer-term solution by helping vulnerable people off the streets and into accommodation and support services.
Other council work is also ongoing to minimise the effect of street begging in the city, including regular outreach work that encourages homeless individuals to take advantage of the services on offer to them - from accommodation through to help with alcohol or drug addiction. The council also undertake regular multi-agency patrols to move rough sleepers on, in particular to discourage encampments and clear up any associated street litter.
Rough sleeping has been a noticeable issue in the city over recent months and Southampton City Council is encouraging residents and visitors to give any charitable donations to homelessness charities in the city, rather than directly to people who are street begging.
How to donate to local charities:
Society of St James: TEXT ‘SOST10’ then the amount, e.g. £3 to 70070
Two Saints: TEXT ‘TSDC30’ then the amount, e.g. £3 to 70070.
Web: Two Saints Homeless Day Centre
You can also help by:
• Fundraising and donating the money to recognised homelessness charities
• Volunteering with a local homelessness charity
• Reporting rough sleepers via Streetlink: www.streetlink.org.uk or emailing the council at firstname.lastname@example.org