Westminster mounts day centres defence

The head of Westminster Council’s new building-based service for
rough sleepers has hit back at critics, saying the policy has
already had a positive impact.

The council has faced criticism from some homelessness charities
and in the local press since it replaced its outreach teams with
workers based in 24-hour day centres last month.

But Westminster’s rough sleeping manager Janet Haddington said
there was anecdotal evidence that providing services within
buildings was proving more effective.

She said it allowed workers to give individual time to rough
sleepers in a private setting, rather than arranging to meet
someone in a cafe, as had previously happened.

Haddington was “fed up” with people assuming the scheme had been
introduced for sinister motives when it had resulted from
collaboration with independent researchers and voluntary sector

“It’s not saving Westminster a single penny,” she said.

But she did say that the scheme had yet to be fully implemented
because the police, who would have “signposted” rough sleepers to
services, had been diverted since the London bombings.

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