Providing Shelter during the pandemic - Helping you into a home.
During the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, all those who would rough sleep have been offered accommodation in Telford & Wrekin ensuring “Everybody In”.
The challenge for Telford & Wrekin Council will be to ensure there is no return to rough sleeping in the borough as lockdown restrictions are eased and ultimately lifted.
To achieve this, a Rough Sleeping COVID 19 Task Force involving the council and its partners Maninplace; KiP@Maninplace and Stay Telford have met daily since the beginning of lockdown to identify, discuss, monitor and provide solutions to clients presenting as homeless that day.
Toni Guest, Telford & Wrekin Council’s Housing Service Delivery Manager explains:
“That meeting was to look at who we knew was rough sleeping, engage with them and offer them accommodation immediately through the Emergency Night Inn, a number of B&Bs and hotels that we are working with or directly into their own tenancy.
“All the rough sleepers were contacted and offered accommodation. Ever since then we have continued with that offer of accommodation to everybody who is rough sleeping or is going to be rough sleeping if we don’t intervene. The COVID 19 Task Force meeting happens daily and has happened every day since March, with the exception of weekends and Bank Holidays.
“At every meeting we go through every single client we have had contact with that day, or who we are aware has been rough sleeping through our Outreach workers or through the public who report it to us. We offer them immediate accommodation through one of the B&Bs or hotels we are working with or through sourcing them accommodation. We then follow that up by working intensively with that person in trying to find them “move on” accommodation so that they are not in emergency accommodation for long. We help them to move into a home that can be theirs for as long as they hopefully will remain there, either with a private landlord or a through social housing.
“Since the lockdown was announced, we have placed 163 people in B&Bs, and with new clients presenting as homeless each day, we have around 20 clients at any one time residing in emergency accommodation. In that same time we have housed 151 people and prevented 172 from becoming homeless.
“The Coronavirus pandemic has had the effect of allowing us to communicate more effectively with rough sleepers. For example, we have one case where we really did not think this person would accept emergency accommodation. They had been rough sleeping for a long time and we had offered continuous help but this was declined each time because they didn’t feel safe inside four walls. Eventually after continuous offers from the outreach workers, this person accepted B&B. This has enabled us to open up communication channels and encouraged some of those rough sleepers who didn’t want to come in, to come in.
“We definitely want to continue keeping people off the streets so, for the immediate term, we will definitely continue what we are doing, working with clients in offering them alternative accommodation. Prevention is the key so we will be trying to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first instance and working on trying to find them “move on” accommodation.
Councillor David Wright, Telford & Wrekin Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing said: “We, together with our partners have achieved so much and so quickly.
“This pandemic has meant that we have been able to offer unprecedented support for those people who were sleeping in the streets.
“Later this year the hotels and B&Bs we are currently using will be allowed to re-open to the general public. We are working hard to make sure when that time comes, those being accommodated that way continue to have a roof over their head.
“Eradicating rough sleeping and homelessness is a key priority for Telford & Wrekin Council. Our new Housing Plan for the next five years is being drafted and, if approved, will begin to be implemented later this year.”
“We know there is a solution and we, as a borough don’t need to return to seeing people sleeping in the streets if the resources and investment is there.”
Terry Gee, Chief Executive of STAY Telford said: "The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have commended Telford & Wrekin Council and our partnership; the taskforce that meets every day, that nobody else in the country has had such a handle on their rough sleepers as we do in Telford.
“That could not have been possible without the partnership work with man in place and, crucially, with the local authority.”
Listen to Terry Gee and Councillor David Wright on BBC Radio Shropshire here (broadcast 17 July 2020) :