Anyone concerned about homeless people in Nottingham can be assured there’s a wide range of support in place – and a number of ways they can help, as there’s always more that can be done.
The City Council works with partners all year round to try to prevent people becoming homeless and provide help if they do. There has been a huge increase in the problem nationwide in recent years, and a fall in funding to address it – but partners in Nottingham work hard to provide a safety net for those facing homelessness. The council has successfully bid for various pots of Government funding to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping, although this is a fraction of what used to be available.
The city’s Housing Aid service aims to prevent homelessness and arranges temporary and longer-term accommodation for homeless households and the council has also reduced the use of B&Bs by introducing more temporary housing. However, temporary accommodation is limited and initial options often involve people staying where they are or finding their own private rented accommodation. A new online self-assessment tool at www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/homelessness makes the process easier. The council’s rough sleeping coordinator works alongside Framework’s Street Outreach Team and community protection officers, identifying and offering support to rough sleepers on a daily basis. The council also works with landlords and housing associations, as well as buying, building, leasing and letting more long-term housing, to make more affordable homes available.
Over the winter, extra measures are introduced, although the winter shelter arrangements are now in place all year round, offering somewhere safe and warm with refreshments and access to support services. Extra measures include ‘sit-up’ services for when temperatures fall below zero, more bedspaces, and an evening outreach shift to find and support rough sleepers into shelter later into the night.
More funding from Government is needed and any help from the public is welcome. Members of the public donated hundreds of gifts for children who were spending Christmas in temporary accommodation and items to help set rough sleepers settle into their new homes under the new Housing First project – handed out by Framework’s Street Outreach Team. Donations are gratefully received all year round by Emmanuel House who coordinate the winter shelter, from items to sell in the charity’s shop to food and drink for rough sleepers.
Nottingham Business Improvement District (BID) is also working to help rough sleepers through its initiative Help Out Nottingham featuring a website www.helpoutnottingham.co.uk/, which pulls together the ways in which Nottingham people can help via local charities, donating clothes or food etc. Nottingham BID is also planning to introduce contactless donation points in the city centre as an alternative to giving money directly to rough sleepers.
Framework also relies on financial donations – and one easy, and fun, way to support them is to attend the Beat The Streets Festival http://www.beatthestreetsuk.com/, taking place at various venues around the city on Sunday 26th January. It has raised around £100,000 a year for the last two years for the charity.
Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing, Cllr Linda Woodings, said: “While increased Government investment over the past year is welcome, it unfortunately does not bring it anywhere close to funding levels before austerity measures. In 2020 we will continue to bid for all available funding opportunities and build on the positive relationships we have with partners across the public, private and community sector to maximise the resources we have available to intervene earlier to help prevent families and individuals from reaching homelessness.
“We are grateful to any local businesses or members of the public who donate gifts or money to charities like Emmanuel House and Framework – this is always a better way to help those in need than giving to people directly. Nottingham BID’s Help Out Nottingham website gives people a range of ways to help and we look forward to the introduction of contactless donation points which will make it easier for people to donate. Beat the Streets later this month is another great way to do your bit.”
“The charities do some amazing work and we are pleased to be running Help Out Nottingham to help direct people to where their donations can make a real difference,” said Jeff Allen, chairman of Nottingham BID.