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Ending rough sleeping in London - one year on

15 February 2010

Outreach teams tackling rough sleeping on London's buses and a new street doctor service are just two of a raft of new measures helping to end rough sleeping on the capital's streets.

Over three-quarters of London’s most entrenched rough sleepers have been helped off the streets since the Mayor of London Boris Johnson set up the London Delivery Board a year ago to tackle the problem.

An Annual Progress Report published today (Feb 15th) reveals the Board has successfully:

  • helped three quarters of London’s 205 most entrenched rough sleepers off the streets
  • created a new outreach service to tackle rough sleeping on London’s buses
  • established a street doctor service, starting in March, to work with vulnerable long term rough sleepers still living on the streets
  • re-launched the Pan-London Reconnection Protocol  to help rough sleepers reconnect with their home areas
  • developed a targeted programme to prevent vulnerable rough sleepers returning to the streets from hostel or other accommodation
  • agreed a system with London’s boroughs to help rough sleepers accessing services across several boroughs
  • promoted volunteering opportunities for those wanting to end rough sleeping.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said:

“These major achievements clearly show that by working together with the boroughs and voluntary organisations, we can end rough sleeping in London by 2012.  This will by no means be an easy task but it is hugely encouraging to see the great enthusiasm, imagination and sheer determination all those involved have brought to this challenge."

Jeremy Swain, Thames Reach Chief Executive said: “The Delivery Board has been absolutely crucial in the drive to end rough sleeping in London.  In its first year it has unflinchingly concentrated on the most needy rough sleepers.  The result is that men and women who have been sleeping rough in appalling conditions for far too long are now off the streets, in settled accommodation and thriving.  It was brave to start with the most marginalised group. Now we must push on and help others to transform their lives and leave the street behind for good.

Jenny Edwards, Chief Executive of Homeless Link, the national umbrella organisation for frontline homelessness agencies, said, “We congratulate the Mayor's London Delivery Board on its leadership and focus on ending rough sleeping.  It has already made some major advances. We welcome its ambition to make a difference to the lives of people who have been sleeping out for longest and its early focus on finding the right approach for 205 people. The partnership with CLG, local authorities, health and voluntary agencies has shown real results for the most vulnerable and, after 9 months, just 67 remain on the streets. 

“We know there is still much to be done if to end rough sleeping by 2012. We will build on success, finding ways off the streets for long term rough sleepers. We can also work together to ensure that we prevent new people ending up becoming entrenched rough sleepers with all the dangers, ill health and wasted potential that would result.”

Cllr Philippa Roe, Westminster Council's cabinet member for housing, said: "We are pleased with the progress that this joined up approach has had to help rough sleepers in the capital.

We know there is more work to be done and that in the current economic it won't be easy but we will continue to work hard to further reduce rough sleeping as much as we can and focus our resources on those who are hardest to reach.  We will also continue to focus on preventing those who are new to the streets from becoming entrenched rough sleepers."   

Leslie Morphy, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “At Crisis we are very pleased with the work achieved by the Delivery Board so far, in particular in helping many of the most entrenched people off of the streets and the way it has brought the boroughs and voluntary sector together with the GLA and bodies such as NHS London. We do, however, have much further to go, and we will be working closely with our partners to ensure the Mayor’s target to end rough sleeping by 2012 is achieved and that all rough sleepers get the accommodation, support, education and employment opportunities they need to leave homelessness behind for good.”

Charles Fraser, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, said: “The London Delivery Board has created a vital sense of momentum towards the challenge of ending rough sleeping. But there’s no room for complacency. Much remains to be done to support those who’ve slipped through society’s safety nets, in particular those in poor mental and physical health and those needing specialist support to move back intro training and employment.”

The London Delivery Board brings together for the first time key stakeholders who are all committed to ending rough sleeping the capital. The board has workstreams focusing on skills and employment, health, migrant rough sleeping, voluntary sector issues, policing and borough issues.

The London Delivery Board Annual Progress Report and Action Plan 2010-2012 are available to download at


Notes to Editors

  1. The Mayor’s commitment to end rough sleeping, outlined in his draft London Housing Strategy, takes forward the vision of the national strategy to bring rough sleeping to an end by 2012.
  2. The London Delivery Board agreed a targeted approach to the capital's most entrenched rough sleepers. 205 people were identified who were still on the streets after five years or after more than 50 offers of help. Three quarters of this group are now off the streets with many in specialist accommodation and some in their own homes. As off 10.02.10 there were 51 of this group still on the streets.
  3. The bus route out reach team is run by Thames Reach, who are working in conjunction with the London Ambulance Service, Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police Service. This innovative outreach service identifies and assists those rough sleeping on London's night bus routes. Funded by the government and Transport for London, the service has identified 41 rough sleepers since December and has helped eight into accommodation, one to return home and is working with another 25 people.
  4. Funding has been identified to establish a specialist GP service that will deliver healthcare to very vulnerable and entrenched rough sleepers living on the streets. The service will begin by the end of March and will initially work for approximately 3 months.
  5. You can read the London Delivery Board’s progress report and action plan at
  6. The following organisations have representatives on the London Delivery Board: City of London, City of Westminster, Communities and Local Government, Crisis, Jobcentre Plus, Greater London Authority, Homeless Link, LB Camden, LB Hammersmith and Fulham, LB Kensington and Chelsea, LB Southwark, LB Tower Hamlets, LB Lambeth, LB Brent, London Development Agency, Mayor's Office, Metropolitan Police, Ministry of Justice, Department of Work and Pensions, NHS London, St Mungo’s, Thames Reach, United Kingdom Borders Agency, National Offender Management Service.
  7. Official counts suggest that there are 250 rough sleepers on London streets on any one night and that over the course of a year 3,500 people will sleep rough in the capital. Records tell us that roughly 87 per cent of people contacted by outreach teams are male and many have problems relating to drugs (41 per cent), alcohol (49 per cent) and mental health (35 per cent) with around a quarter having a combination of these problems. People who have been in prison or the care system are over represented.


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