08 November, 2005

Homelessness conference

Last night I went to a conference called solutions to homelessness in Westminster . Quite a few people attended including
Janet Haddington (head of Westminster councils rough sleeping team)
Colin clover (director of London connection at St Martins)
Stuart Freeman (director of chas central London)
John Deacon (the West London day center)
Westminster councils has become renown for some of it's policies so it was good to hear someone at last face the music so to speak and explain what the councils intentions where regarding rough sleepers.
On July 1st 2005 Westminster city council implemented there new rough sleepers intuitive based on their new provision called building based services(BBS) it is supposed to move away from the traditional street base out reach work to a new more efficient scheme. Outreach workers will now make assessments at a base rather than the streets and the council will have community officer giving out bits of paper to people they meet sleeping rough urging them to go to a day center to be assessed for housing. Providing the BBS will be,
The passage
Connections at St Martins
St Mungo's
Thames Reach Bondway
The first point of contact will be the newly name safer street unit. (good name don't you think) the rough sleepers will be informed by one of these officials and they will sign post them to the nearest service. So on and so forth.
I thought this was a gimmick when I first heard about it and it does seem to me a bit over the top but as they say you shouldn't knock something unless you prove it doesn't' work but people can look at it in different ways especially people that live in the borough.
1. Is that the council are now spending more money on something new when the old system was working although at a slower pace.
2. There are people still sleeping rough in the borough that have been there for ages and it does seem that these are the people that the new scheme will leave behind.
3. Is this going to be another council thing that cannot be maintained.
When Janet haddington was asked about the people that could fall through the cracks so to speak because they have violent or personality disorders she used the words enforcement orders . We have many cases over the last few years of patents with disorders being put back into society and a tragedy has occurred. Are we saying just because they have a disorder we have to force them off the streets. When they already have had experts that put them back in to our society. My worry is that enforcement orders and asbo's will become common place and will be used to force people off the streets. I could go on and on but I want to put these views to other homeless people and write what they have to say. If we concentrate on things that are happening now we seem to have the old thing of out of sight and out of mind occurring as hostels get more over crowded and places become more scare. If you look on the streets of your city tonight has the number of rough sleepers risen. I would love to know because it has here.

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