Homelessness: 67 rough sleepers now remaining in London

A pan-London alliance has moved more than three-quarters of the most entrenched rough sleepers off the capital’s streets in its first year of operation, a report said this week.

An annual progress report from the multi-agency London Delivery Board details a series of initiatives that has helped the majority of the 205 most entrenched rough sleepers into flats or specialist accommodation. There are now just 67 rough sleepers on inner London’s streets.

The report said this reduction was achieved by providing rapid access to services, regardless of location.

The board is looking to move the rest off the streets by next month, but has widened its approach to a further group of long-term rough sleepers, mainly in outer London, and 65 vulnerable people who have a long history of returning to the streets after entering accommodation.

Other achievements during the past year include securing funding for outreach teams to work on London’s buses, amid evidence that some rough sleepers remain hidden on night buses, and the establishment of a street doctor service.

The board was set up by London Mayor Boris Johnson with an ambition to end rough sleeping by the 2012 Olympics through joint working with groups including frontline umbrella organisation Homeless Link, the police and London’s borough councils.

Homeless Link chief executive Jenny Edwards said the board had made “major advances” in tackling rough sleeping, but added: “We know there is still much to be done if we are to end rough sleeping by 2012. We will build on success, finding ways off the streets for long-term rough sleepers.”

Her view was shared by Jeremy Swain, Charles Fraser and Leslie Morphy, the chief executives of homelessness charities Thames Reach, St Mungo’s and Crisis respectively.

Among other initiatives, the board has:

• Re-launched the pan-London reconnection protocol to help rough sleepers reconnect with their home areas in the UK. It wants to expand the London Reconnections Service to help migrant workers who have failed to achieve their ambitions in this country return home.

• Developed a targeted programme to prevent vulnerable rough sleepers returning to the streets from hostel or other accommodation.

• Agreed a system with London’s boroughs to help rough sleepers access services in several boroughs.

• Promoted volunteering opportunities for those wanting to end rough sleeping.

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