Published 5th May 2020
It has been over a month since all rough sleepers in Southend-on-Sea were offered temporary accommodation and work continues between the council, charities and the voluntary sector to keep them safe.
More than 100 people who were sleeping rough have now been housed in hotels and B&Bs in Southend-on-Sea and all agencies are working together to make sure rough sleepers are safe and well during the coronavirus crisis.
The response model created within Southend has been copied across the rest of the county, due to its effectiveness. Thoughts are now turning to what will happen when the Government begins to relax restrictions and how it will be managed.
Preparations for the rough sleeper community were already under way when the Government announced the restrictions and their ‘stay home, save lives’ message on Thursday 26 March.
Cllr Ian Gilbert, Labour Leader of Southend Council, says: “We knew that in order to keep rough sleepers safe and well, provision needed to be made and partly due to our excellent working relationships with key partners, we were able to respond quickly and effectively to make sure this vulnerable sector of our community is cared for during the pandemic.
“Now we are considering the next steps, with our colleagues and partners. Many rough sleepers have benefited from the support they have received whilst in temporary accommodation and we want that good work to continue.
“In the first two days, 85 rough sleepers were temporarily housed by the Council’s rough sleeper team, working alongside partners including HARP. This included those who were sleeping in emergency shelters as the Government immediately closed those facilities.
“The remaining people were placed as their circumstances were highlighted to the council. All subsequent and new applications are being assessed by the Council’s Housing Solutions team, but only those with a connection to Southend will be offered housing, anyone else is referred to the local authority where they were previously living.
“Plans for what will happen once the restrictions are relaxed are currently under discussion between the Council and partners.”
If you see someone sleeping rough you can send their location to Streetlink: www.Streetlink.org.uk. The referral will send an outreach worker to the location to visit the person and support them to access the services they need.
Alternatively you can call the Housing Solutions Team at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council on 01702 215000.