As winter sets in, Nottingham comes together to pledge to tackle homelessness as a city

Nottingham City Council has launched its new five-year Homelessness Prevention Strategy and is asking crucial partners – and the public – to commit to playing their part.

The launch comes as Shelter releases its annual report showing that homelessness continues to be a worsening national crisis – with ‘at least 320,000 people now homeless in Britain’ as a result of ‘a perfect storm of spiralling rents, welfare cuts and a total lack of social housing’ caused by the Government.

Nottingham’s new Homelessness Prevention Strategy lays out how the Council will work with voluntary groups, faith groups, NHS, DWP, local prisons and the private sector to reduce homelessness in Nottingham.

Rough sleeping is a visible and concerning element of homelessness – but it only accounts for around 5% of the total number of people who need help. There are many other families and individuals who are at risk of homelessness from their tenancy or family home, are sofa surfing with friends or who are in temporary accommodation, needing permanent affordable housing solutions, which are limited in Nottingham’s competitive housing market.

Homelessness (in all its forms) has increased throughout the country over recent years following a sustained period of government austerity and in the context of a national housing crisis. The situation in Nottingham echoes the national trend with the number of households presenting in need rising over the last five years, with a further marked increase following the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act in April 2018. Locally, the introduction of Universal Credit Full Service is predicted to add further pressure to the city’s homelessness services – currently, around 90 households present to Housing Aid each week at risk of homelessness, while there are over 200 families currently in temporary accommodation.

The new Strategy focuses on:

  • Addressing the causes of homelessness – tackling social exclusion, improving mental health services, protecting people from violence and abuse, teaching people financial and independent living skills
  • Homelessness prevention – working with private landlords and parents to prevent sudden evictions, minimising evictions from social housing and supporting accommodation and bridging the gap to accommodation once institutionalised support ends
  • Homelessness relief – delivering housing solutions, especially in the private rented sector – eviction from private rented accommodation is the most common cause of homelessness. As well as working with landlords, Nottingham City Council and Nottingham City Homes will utilise empty homes or appropriate buildings for conversion to provide appropriate temporary, supported or accessible accommodation
  • Tackling rough sleeping – continuing our multi-agency approach to dealing with street homelessness, – providing support, accommodation, and if necessary, enforcement action. As part of the new Strategy, we’re asking for specific support from voluntary groups and faith groups, alongside partners to help prevent unplanned hospital discharge and unsupported prison release, both of which can lead to rough sleeping

A crucial element of the new Homelessness Prevention Strategy is a Charter – asking partners and the public to pledge to say what they will do over the next five years.

Councillor Toby Neal, Portfolio Holder for Community Protection at Nottingham City Council, said:

“Nottingham City Council and partners continue to work hard to help those experiencing homelessness in the city. Our practical response for this winter is bigger and better – and this week I’m proud to launch our ambitious new five-year Homelessness Prevention Strategy, which lays out how our own teams will work with crucial partners across the city and beyond to make a real difference in incredibly difficult circumstances.

“The question that I put to all Nottinghamians today is – can you make a pledge to help too?

“We continue to call on the Government to wake up to the scale of homelessness and rough sleeping, which has been hugely worsened by their own hand – thanks to the housing crisis, universal credit, and deep cuts to services like mental health and drug and alcohol rehabilitation.”

Things that local people can do to make a difference:

Local people:

  • Let Framework know when they spot someone sleeping rough, so they can offer help (Call 0800 066 5356, text SOT to 80800 and a message, or go online to streetlink.org.uk)
  • Hold a bake sale or raffle at work to raise money for Framework or Emmanuel House
  • Sign up to donate monthly to Framework or Emmanuel House
  • Drop off food and clothing donations to the Emmanuel House Day Centre on Goose Gate – or drop off your unwanted items to their charity shop next door
  • Drop off a shoebox with gifts for families experiencing homelessness (such as socks, toiletries and a magazine or book) at Highwood House 39-59 Cranmer St, Nottingham NG3 4HD
  • Buy a ticket to Beat the Streets – a one day music festival on 27 January 2019 where all proceeds go to local homelessness charities

Local businesses:

  • Pledge to donate leftover food and drinks to Emmanuel House
  • Host a collection box in their business for Framework or Emmanuel House
  • Consider employing a homeless or formerly homeless person
  • Landlords – pledge to work with us to prevent homelessness due to eviction

People and businesses can tweet their pledges using #pledge4Nottm.

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