Efforts are being taken to help address the number of rough sleepers in Bath and North East Somerset, after the annual count found an estimated 34 people sleeping outdoors.
The estimate was carried out on a night in November where outreach workers looked for and spoke to rough sleepers.
Of the 34 individuals identified, 33 had previously been offered help and assistance to get them off the street; 29 of the 34 were male, five were female, one was under 25 years old.
The number of rough sleepers counted in 2016 was 25, whilst in previous years the number found in 2013 was 33, in 2014 it was 27 and in 2015 it was 22.
Bath & North East Somerset Council commissions a specialist outreach service from Julian House and the Developing Health and Independence (DHI) charity, who work in partnership to support people sleeping rough with the aim of encouraging them into services such as Manvers Street Hostel as a first step towards a more settled and safe life.
On the night the count took place the Manvers Street Hostel, which has 30 beds, was fully occupied. The count has been verified by Homeless Link and is a reliable estimate of the level of rough sleepers in Bath and North East Somerset.
Councillor Paul Myers (Conservative, Midsomer Norton North) Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic & Community Regeneration, said: “The Council takes the issue of rough sleeping very seriously, and even one person sleeping outdoors is one too many. I am therefore saddened to see that the most recent count found a rise in rough sleeping, despite the range of dedicated support the Council and its partners provide for homeless people in Bath and North East Somerset.
“We will be working closely with service users and providers to develop further opportunities to help these individuals off the streets and will be continuing to offer more individually targeted support and help for those identified as sleeping rough in the area.”
Additional beds and extra street outreach work was offered by Julian House this week in response to the very cold weather conditions.
The estimate of rough sleepers was as thorough as possible, with hostels, hospitals and police being asked about people in their care or custody who would otherwise be sleeping outside.
Partnership working between agencies such as the Council, Julian House, DHI, Specialist Drug and Alcohol Service, The Big Issue, Genesis, Southside, the RUH, AWP mental health services the Police and many others will ensure that support continues for rough sleepers.
- Manvers Street Hostel which has 20 direct access and nine move on units.
- Assertive Outreach Service which has four full-time officers helping people leave the street, now offering new drop-in assistance at Lewis House.
- Report a Rough Sleeper Website for concerns from the public about rough sleeping www.streetlink.org.uk
- Day Centre held every day at Manvers Street Hostel with hot meals and activities.
- The Homesearch Register to help people leave supported housing and become independent.
- Access to private rented housing (Homefinders) to help people pay for advanced rent and deposit.
- Emergency accommodation in severe weather which provides an overflow for when the Manvers Street Hostel is full at times of extreme cold and wet.
- Case Management through a multi-agency group called Task and Targeting to share information and identify solutions for entrenched rough sleepers.
- Strategic Homelessness Partnership of local providers, commissioners and other interested parties considering strategic priorities.