Advice and support for those rough sleeping is dealt with by Cherwell's Housing Needs Team who welcome information about suspected rough sleepers. Agencies and members of the public can report rough sleepers direct to the Local Authority or via Streetlink website (see link), telephone number (0300 500 0914) or via the mobile phone app downloadable from the App store for I phone and Android phones.
The council can offer a full assessment, advice and support. The statutory duty for a Local Authority to provide emergency accommodation is restricted to households deemed to be in 'Priority Need'. This is assessed on a case by cases basis in line with Homelessness Legislation.
Emergency Accommodation for Single People
In Oxfordshire, the Districts and the City Councils have worked together to provide a Pathway for Single Homeless People. There are various levels of support offered depending on the needs of the clients. There are units of accommodation in all the districts. 12 units and an Assessment bed are provided in Cherwell for those whose needs can be managed locally.
Often those rough sleeping have multiple needs and finding accommodation is only one area where they require support. Specialist provision for those with the most complex needs is based in Oxford City where pooling resources has enabled us to provide purpose built accommodation which specialises in assessing and meeting the needs of those with complex needs. This service has 24 hour staffing, there is access to specialist medical services, food and clothing is also provided if necessary. There are also a number of places for clients with dogs.
The Government's 'No Second Night Out' initiative has been adopted in the County:
There are 5 principles to NSNO
- new rough sleepers should be identified and helped off the streets immediately
- members of the public should be able to play a referring role, and a website, phone app and hotline number (0300 500 0914) have been developed for them to do so.
- rough sleepers should access a place of safety and assessment
- they should have access to emergency accommodation and other services such as healthcare
- there should be a reconnection to their local community unless there is a good reason not to do so.
Cherwell District Council fund an Outreach Service to go out to verify those reported as rough sleeping to enable access to services. They also carry out an assessment of an individual's support needs and circumstances. They will offer ongoing support to anyone waiting to be placed.
Levels of rough sleeping are monitored through our partnerships with the police and voluntary agencies. In the annual Government return for 2015 Cherwell District Council estimated 21 people were rough sleeping within the district on a given night.
Severe weather emergency provision (SWEP)
In periods of severe weather, when the temperature is predicted to be below zero degrees for three consecutive nights, the Oxford hostels provide emergency beds for people who may not otherwise be eligible to access their hostels, without need for verification.
The duty service can be contacted in severe weather for a referral for SWEP. The out of hours duty service can be contacted via the council, the police or social care out of hours services.
Entrenched Rough Sleeping
The term 'Entrenched Rough Sleeping' refers to individuals who have been sleeping out for an extended period of time and where this has become an established way of life. This particularly applies to those who have been offered services and refused to engage as they now consider sleeping out to be a preferred option for themselves.
Cherwell District Council, chair a monthly Vulnerable Adults Panel meeting where information is shared on individuals who are believed to be rough sleeping. The reports from the panel indicate that there are a small number of entrenched rough sleepers in Cherwell. Each of them has been offered access to services but so far they have refused. This includes access to the Severe Weather provision.
Services remain available to entrenched rough sleepers if they made a decision to access services and priority will be given for placement in the Single Homeless Pathway.