A robust Cold Weather Plan is in place in Nottingham to provide support for rough sleepers, with a winter shelter and other measures now in place through until the end of March.
Nottingham City Council leads a multi-agency group, including Framework Housing Association, hostels and local churches, which aims to prevent new, repeat and entrenched rough sleeping, as well as reducing the risks to the health and well-being of those who sleep on the streets. They are identified, assessed, supported and accommodated in Nottingham or reconnected back to their local community if they are not from Nottingham.
Nottingham signed up to a No Second Night Out approach two years ago, which seeks to ensure no-one will live on the streets of Nottingham and no individual arriving on the streets for the first time will sleep out for more than one night.
In Nottingham it has been agreed that all Cold Weather Plan measures are implemented from November to March, regardless of the actual temperature or weather conditions during that period.
The Winter Shelter is managed by Emmanuel House in partnership with city churches and other agencies. Its primary goal is to reduce rough sleeping and risk of rough sleeping. It is intended that a minimum of 18 bedspaces will be available each night – currently in line with the numbers expected to be rough sleepers – prioritised in terms of reducing risk and who would benefit most, rather than on a first come first served basis. In addition, those finding themselves in these circumstances can be referred to foodbanks or other services which provide free meals.
Also throughout this period, a nurse-led team provides practical healthcare, assessment, treatment, advice and support via drop-in clinics and outreach to those who are homeless, in hostel accommodation or vulnerably housed in Nottingham. Homeless people are also signposted to drop-in clinics that are held at various venues on different days throughout the week.
A homeless prevention service also works with people with drug and alcohol problems who are ‘sofa surfing’ and have the potential to end up on the streets, or are vulnerably housed and having difficulties sustaining their tenancies. The service supports people to maintain their homes, and reduce the risk of potential homelessness. Citizens Advice Housing Advice provides free, independent and impartial advice to those with housing or housing related debt issues.
The council’s Community Protection Officers operate in the city centre and every Nottingham neighbourhood, and will identify anyone sleeping rough and help anyone at risk to access support and accommodation. On Friday and Saturday nights Street Pastors from 24 different city churches are out and about in Nottingham and are also well placed to identify anyone at risk of rough sleeping and can help with accessing accommodation and support options.
During the winter months, supported accommodation providers are asked to refresh their allocation, assessment and eviction processes to reduce the risks of an individual losing a placement and becoming street homeless. Where possible and appropriate, Nottingham City Homes are committed to prioritising and fast tracking applications from people who are assessed as at risk of rough sleeping at this time of year.
Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing, Councillor Jane Urquhart, said: “This time of year is particularly difficult for people who have sadly ended up sleeping rough, and so special measures are always put in place to try to prevent it in the first place and provide support when it does happen.
“Our housing aid team works closely with Framework’s Street Outreach Team, alongside local hostels, churches and other organisations, to make sure there is a safety net in place for those vulnerable people who are in most need during the winter months.”
• Anyone sleeping rough or who spots someone who is should make a referral to the Street Outreach Team 24 hours a day via the Freephone number: 0800 066 5356