Thames Reach on new rough sleeping investments: don’t forget prevention

Following the government’s announcement of additional funding for rough sleeping services, Thames Reach welcome the commitment but stress that investment in prevention is essential to our work towards ending street homelessness

Thames Reach on new rough sleeping investments: don’t forget prevention

At Thames Reach, we welcome the new RSI (Rough Sleeping Initiative) funding provisions for rough sleeping services, with the government’s announcement last weekend that councils will receive a further £200million in this stage of their plan to support people experiencing rough sleeping. This is positive news that will help continue our efforts to reduce rough sleeping in London.  However while we welcome this investment we believe that there is an urgent need to review the national Rough Sleeping Strategy, learning from the lessons of the pandemic, both positive and negative.  Alongside this we would like to see a return to multi-year funding that can provide the sort of stability that will help us feel confident that we can offer lasting solutions to street homelessness, and help people along the journey of moving on from the streets, which only starts once an individual has been housed.

As part of this we would like to see an increased focus on the prevention stage of street homelessness, working with people to divert them away from the street and into more secure accommodationThe last year has shown how precariously many people are housed, and highlighted the need to intervene earlier. We know that street homelessness is a huge cause of trauma and anxiety, and causes lasting damage, and it is crucial that we are able to work effectively to prevent this.

Any revised strategy will need to address the needs of people without recourse to public funds, particularly those with complex support needs.  Without this help for people who are currently largely ineligible, street homelessness will continue and numbers will increase.

Homelessness and housing organisations respond to Government Rough Sleeping Strategy

Thames Reach welcomes the Government’s new rough sleeping strategy

Homelessness and housing organisations respond to Government Rough Sleeping Strategy

The Government today releases its rough sleeping strategy, the first since announcing its commitment to halve the number of people sleeping on the streets by 2022 and to end the problem by 2027.

Responding, housing and homelessness organisations who were part of the strategy’s Rough Sleeping Advisory Group issued a joint statement saying:

“This strategy is a significant step towards the government’s goal of ending rough sleeping by 2027, which will make a real difference to people’s lives. As members of the advisory panel, we welcome the new funding commitment for dedicated outreach teams and for emergency bed spaces, while the announcement of nationwide trials of a ‘somewhere safe to stay’ duty and the review of the vagrancy act have the potential to pave the way for desperately needed reforms, preventing people sleeping rough.

“However, for the strategy to work, the government must also set out bold, cross-departmental plans to tackle the root causes of all forms of homelessness, and prevent it from happening in the first place. This must include plans to build significantly more social housing, to foster greater security for renters, to ensure people have access to benefits and other support they need to help them keep their homes. We also need to see a reversal of policies that leave migrants homeless and destitute, and healthcare, mental health and substance misuse services that are available and truly accessible to those who need it.

“To end rough sleeping by 2027, the government must build on today’s welcome announcement and set out plans to prevent homelessness from occurring in the first place. The ambitious target that the government has set itself will only be achieved if it is equally bold on addressing the polices that cause rough sleeping.”

Responding further, Bill Tidnam, Chief Executive at Thames Reach said:

“Rough sleeping is both dangerous and distressing and nobody should have to sleep rough on the streets.

“We’re pleased new measures are being taken to ensure people receive the right support to move away from homelessness.

“We welcome this strategy and its investment, and believe it’s an encouraging start in ending rough sleeping.

“We particularly welcome funding from the Department of Health, and the commitment this provides in ensuring that homeless people have access to the health services they need; as well as the recognition of the specific needs of migrant rough sleepers, who currently have few realistic options available to them. There needs to be an ongoing discussion around how this funding will be spent to effectively support this group to move into affordable accommodation and work.

“The real work now begins on implementing this strategy, ensuring a level of agreement and understanding so work can get underway, and making sure we all listen and learn from all lessons along the way”.