Great to see St Mungo’s giving a presentation to parliamentary staff (my team included) here in Portcullis House yesterday. The event was organised by parliamentary colleagues, including Selina Short, and looked at how members of the public could do their bit to help rough sleepers they might come across on the streets.
As many will know, our local authority has more rough sleepers on its streets than any other, meaning that its outreach team certainly has its work cut out. Despite this challenge, the Council is committed to meeting and assessing everyone who is referred, and offering them a sustainable route away from the street, regardless of their connection to Westminster.
Our Council spends more on rough sleeping that any other local authority. This level of funding means that rough sleeping outreach team manage to ensure that 75 per cent of new rough sleepers arriving in Westminster do not spend a second night on the streets.
However, despite such unseen success, there is still work to be done. One area I have been focusing on recently, and was raised during the presentation, is in regard to the use of tents by rough sleepers. Tents have a reputation for being used for drug consumption and have often been involved in potentially dangerous incidents. This is why outreach teams have difficulty entering tents and why the inhabitants often will not receive the support they need. For this reason, the Council and I have been seeking to secure powers to deal with tent encampments, both to assist the rough sleepers who use them and to make the area safer for local people and businesses.
Ways in which you can help St Mungo's
- One way in which members of the public can assist is by downloading the StreetLink app. This app allows you to alert local services of a rough sleeper by simply giving a brief description and mapping their location. StreetLink aims to respond to an alert within one to three nights by sending an outreach team to connect a rough sleeper with local services.
- For those wishing to take an even more active role, there is a wide range of voluntary positions on offer. From being part of an outreach team, making first contact with rough sleepers, to assisting with processing the 3000 referrals made per day, there are plenty of opportunities available to make a difference.
- Another important aspect is St Mungo’s partner service, No Second Night Out, which aims to identify rough sleepers who are not currently on any database. Once identified they are taken to one of London’s three assessment hubs and are immediately assessed. If eligible, they will be put in touch with local authorities who can best help. Though these centres have above an 80 per cent success rate in preventing people returning to the streets, it could always use more volunteers.