Epping Forest District Council is on a mission to help people off the streets and reduce rough sleeping in the district.
According to the latest figures from the Government, homelessness is on the increase in England. There is no single reason why someone can end up without a home; personal circumstances and wider factors both play their part.
The Council is committed to helping rough sleepers and those at risk of homelessness and have launched their ‘Together we can help rough sleepers’ campaign.
Many people want to help rough sleepers but don’t always know how to. The campaign, which is being run in partnership with Churches Homeless Emergency Support Scheme (CHESS), aims to raise awareness of the best ways to help, ensuring that support is directed into homelessness charities and street teams who can provide vital services.
Report to Streetlink
The campaign encourages people to help get rough sleepers off the streets by reporting rough sleepers through StreetLink, a service that centralises reporting of rough sleepers. Streetlink says outreach teams have helped record numbers of people facing nights sleeping outside, after alerts from the public. The campaign also asks those who wish to give money, to donate to CHESS.
So why don’t we encourage people to give their spare change directly to rough sleepers? Many people have different views about giving money to people on the street, and there isn’t any right answer to this issue. But by donating to homelessness charities people can be assured that their money will be used to help tackle the issue properly.
However, there’s certainly no harm in offering someone food, a hot drink or a blanket.
The Housing Portfolio Holder, Councillor Syd Stavrou, said: “Rough sleeping is the most visible consequence of homelessness. Compared to some other areas, we have relatively low numbers of rough sleepers in the district, but even one person sleeping rough on our streets is one too many. I know that residents of the district want to tackle this growing problem but don’t always know what to do for the best. The ‘Together we can help rough sleepers’ campaign will help to connect rough sleepers with specialist services available to them.”
CHESS outreach support
The council are doing everything they can to make sure there is a route off the streets for every rough sleeper in the district. They work with CHESS running outreach services, responding to calls made via Streetlink, offering shelter, clothing and facilities.
The help and generosity of residents makes a huge difference to charities like CHESS who work with hundreds of homeless people each year. These donations are helping to change the circumstances of rough sleepers so they can rebuild their lives and move away from street homelessness for good.
During extremely cold weather, the Council activates its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP), to help rough sleepers into accommodation.
The Council’s Homelessness Team can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01992 564165.