Exeter City Council continuing to tackle homelessness in Exeter
>Exeter City Council today reaffirmed its commitment to tackling homelessness in the city.
The Council has been working closely with a wide range of partners to reduce the numbers of people sleeping on the streets.
Cllr Emma Morse, Lead Councillor for Customer Access, said: “At one point a few months ago, we estimated that there were around 60 people sleeping on the streets but we have been working with our Outreach Team from Julian House and other partners, and the annual return now confirms this figure has been reduced to 41.
“Just in the last quarter, we have had good outcomes reconnecting 12 people back into homes in other areas. This is a positive sign that by working together, we can begin to make a difference.”
Cllr Morse said that whilst the ultimate aim was to end rough sleeping in the city, this was a challenging national issue, with cities such as Bristol and Oxford seeing an increase in numbers over recent years.
In 2014, the official number sleeping on the streets in Bristol was 41, but in 2015 this was up to 97, an increase of 137%.
Oxford has also seen a rise in the number of homeless people sleeping rough on city streets in the last year. During an annual count in 2015, 39 people were found sleeping on the streets of Oxford, up by 50% from 26 in 2014.
“We can’t be complacent,” said Cllr Morse, “We must continue to reach out to those without a home or who find it difficult to maintain their accommodation.”
With weather conditions getting colder, the City Council is looking to open a new night shelter in the city in preparation for the winter months. A potential building has been identified in Market Street after a long search supported by the Express & Echo. However Planning permission is needed for change of use as it is currently a retail premises. This decision will be considered by the Council’s Planning Committee for a change of use.
If given the go-ahead, the City Council will work closely with Devon County Council, East Devon District Council, NHS, Devon and Cornwall Police and local providers BCHA, Julian House and St Petrock’s to offer a safe place to sleep for those with no other options available. A number of spaces to accommodate rough sleepers will be available from mid-December through to 28 February, including specific provision for women.
Safe Sleep is a proactive approach, building on a requirement by government under Severe Weather Provision, where additional spaces are only offered whenever the temperature drops below zero for three or more nights. With the possibility of snow and freezing weather there are serious concerns for rough sleepers as there is a real risk to their health.
Once again, the winter gives providers the opportunity to work together in a more co-ordinated way with this hard-to-reach group. Julian House (Street Outreach Contract) are central to the success of the scheme and are undertaking to work with other providers to help ensure easy flow into the accommodation and support to manage those moving through into longer-term options.
Safe Sleep places will be in addition to services already provided at BCHA’s Gabriel House hostel and the St Petrock’s Resource Centre in the city, with support of the Assertive Homeless Outreach Team from Julian House. The Safe-Sleep project will provide bed spaces alongside use of the City Council’s temporary accommodation stock, where appropriate.
The project includes support alongside a place to sleep with the intention of being able to offer as many ongoing accommodation placements as possible by the end of February.
17 October 2016
OPINION by editor Patrick Phelvin
A city of fine flats and freezing tents
Recently I arrived early to open up the Echo‘s offices to find 2 homeless people blocking the door and having a violent row.
Both were under the influence of either drink or drugs and, although they moved out the way when I asked, it was a nasty situation.
Other businesses in the city centre have had much worse. Discarded needles and faeces are common problems, threats of violence are rare but have been reported.
In the midst of this we must not forget, though, that we are dealing with some of society’s most vulnerable people. Scratch the surface and tales of mental illness, broken relationships and substance abuse are behind most of the faces we see on our streets.
The Council is keen on developing long-term solutions – and is hoping to go beyond its statutory requirement to provide immediate shelter to homeless people once the temperature dips below freezing for 3 nights in a row.
But a deal to provide a building for a more urgent requirement has fallen through, and now the Echo, with its Give Me Shelter campaign, is calling on the city’s great and good to help out.
Perhaps there’s a disused warehouse that could be converted, an old block of University accommodation standing idle, or a church room that could be used?
I am sure that a quick solution to this must exist, and the fortunate can come up with an answer to the problems of the less lucky.
If we don’t, will be the city with smart restaurants, luxury penthouse flats and £9,000-a-year serviced student apartments for our elite, while poor people are dying in tents.
That’s not an Exeter I recognise or want to be a part of.
People can have their say on a raft of initiatives to tackle homelessness in Exeter and Teignbridge.
Exeter City Council and Teignbridge District Council have drawn up a draft Homelessness Strategy to address the issue. Members of the public have a chance to comment on the strategy, with the consultation ending on 28 March.
The City Council is committed to bring rough sleeping to an end and is determined to help those without a roof over their heads to turn their lives around.
Much of the focus of the strategy is the importance of working together with wider statutory and voluntary organisations to address homelessness.
Among the initiatives within the strategy are the following:
- Launch a referral service for private landlords to help save private rented tenancies when things start to go wrong
- Develop alternatives to Bed & Breakfast accommodation in an emergency for families and young people.
- Consider the design of accommodation options for rough sleepers to provide alternatives for those unable to access current provision
- Review the impact of Safe Sleep winter provision and determine whether a Night Shelter model is a viable option in the local area to provide emergency accommodation.
- Improve awareness and quality of leaflets and guides about homelessness, and how to get help.
- Pilot a Housing First model of accommodation for entrenched rough sleepers to provide options for those who are failed by existing services.
- Trial the provision of services outside of the Council offices where clients are more likely to engage.
You can see the strategy and fill in a brief survey by following this link to the Teignbridge website www.teignbridge.gov.uk/policy
16 March 2016
Drop-in event gives people chance to have their say on homelessness
People in Exeter can find out what is being done in the city to assist those who are homeless at a drop-in event next week.
The City Council – working in partnership with Teignbridge District Council – has drawn up a Homelessness Strategy for Exeter and Teignbridge.
As part of the Strategy the public are being asked for their views on a raft of initiatives put forward to prevent homelessness.
Cllr Emma Morse, Lead Councillor for Customer Access, said: “This is a great opportunity for people to drop in and see what we have been doing to address homelessness in the city and what plans we have for the future to address this important and complex issue.”
The event takes place at Exeter Guildhall in the High Street, on Thursday 24 March between 10am and 2pm. Everyone is welcome to attend and a number of partners such as St Petrocks and Julian House will be there to explain their role in the city.
Cllr Morse added: “As part of the Strategy we are committed to bring rough sleeping to an end. We are determined to help those without a roof over their head to turn their lives around.”
Much of the focus of the strategy is the importance of working together with wider statutory and voluntary organisations to address homelessness. Among the initiatives within the strategy are the following:
• Launch a referral service for private landlords to help save private rented tenancies when things start to go wrong
• Develop alternatives to bed & breakfast in an emergency for families and young people
• Consider the design of accommodation options for rough sleepers to provide options for those unable to access current provision
• Review the impact of ‘Safe Sleep’ winter provision and determine whether a night shelter model is a viable option in the local area to provide emergency accommodation
• Improve awareness and quality of leaflets and guides about homelessness and how to get help
• Pilot a ‘Housing First’ model of accommodation for entrenched rough sleepers to provide options for those who find it difficult to access and maintain existing services
• Trial a flexible advice service outside of the council offices where clients find it easier to engage
The public consultation ends on 28 March and people can either attend the Guildhall event and leave their feedback or visit the strategy on the City Council’s website at to have their say.
– Ends –
Safe Sleep Exeter helps homeless people through the winter
Homeless people sleeping rough in Exeter and East Devon have been given a helping hand into accommodation this winter through the Safe Sleep Exeter 2016 scheme.
The Safe Sleep Exeter project saw an additional 26 bed spaces opened in the city between 1 December and 29 February to provide shelter from the cold and severe weather.
In total, 1,235 bed spaces were provided during the scheme, assisting 82 homeless people to be accommodated, with 45 moving on to more settled accommodation at the end.
The scheme was made possible by a partnership approach by Exeter City Council, St Petrocks, BCHA, and Julian House. Funding was also contributed by East Devon Council, Devon County Council, and Devon and Cornwall Police.
As a result of the positive outcomes from Safe Sleep, Exeter City Council is funding eight bed spaces with BCHA in newly furnished dormitory style rooms to continue the provision of fast access shelter for homeless people as a stepping stone to accommodation.
Emma Morse, Exeter City Council’s Lead Councillor for Customer Access, said: “This is a fantastic example of what can be achieved to help homeless people when we work together. We are very lucky to have services dedicated to helping the homeless in the city and look forward to further projects to help as stated in our draft homelessness strategy.”
Mel Hartley, Project Manager from St Petrocks, said:
“We were delighted when Exeter City Council announced it would fund a Safe Sleep service for three months from December 1. We were very fortunate to have the commitment from our staff and volunteers who never missed any of the 91 nights.”
“From the start, all agencies recognised that this service could only be effective if offers of accommodation were made and we’re really encouraged that agencies, including our own Private Rented Service and Exeter City Council were able to deliver on this. This service not only saves lives but importantly is now proven to provide a vital route for rough sleepers into accommodation.”
David Twomey, Project Leader at Gabriel House, BCHA, said:
“We are very grateful to the residents and staff of Gabriel House, without whom we would not have been able to provide this vital assistance over the winter period . Their help and goodwill throughout the three months allowed the communal areas of the hostel to be used to provide shelter for the most vulnerable and supported people to move on into more permanent accommodation.”
Brett Sentence, Service Manager, Assertive Homeless Outreach Team, said: “This has provided a wonderful platform for working in Partnership to help rough sleepers towards accommodation and a more settled future.”