City Hall

We don't want anyone to see rough sleeping as their only option

Three London boroughs have won £80,000 funding from the Mayor for a project that aims to prevent rough sleeping. Kath Dane, street population coordinator at Tower Hamlets Council explains more.

Photo credit: Thames Reach/Ben Hennessy

In Tower Hamlets we have had significant success in tackling rough sleeping, success coming from a partnership approach with our voluntary and statutory sector partners.

Such success followed our work on the Mayor of London’s No Second Night Out initiative. Launched in April 2011, this provides fast response to new rough sleepers to avoid them having to sleep out for a second night.

But we are keen to build on our successes. Doing so takes significant resources, so Tower Hamlets led on submitting a funding application to the Mayor in partnership with the City of London and Hackney Council. The funding will help us to do an even bigger and better job of preventing anyone in our boroughs from sleeping on the streets.

I’m excited to work on this, but I also recognise that this is going to be a lot of hard work for us all.

We know from talking to people on the streets just how dangerous sleeping rough can be. Many have complex problems from poor physical or mental health, to drug or alcohol misuse, low self-esteem and very limited prospects of getting a job.

But we need to know more about these people. We’ll start by using this funding to commission research on the common characteristics of local rough sleepers, research we’ll share with other London boroughs.

We will also develop an assessment tool to help staff in our Housing Options Service to spot potential rough sleepers before they reach the streets, so that they can then be given swift access to a range of services designed to ensure they don’t end sleeping out.

As well as all this, we also want to help those who end up on the streets without seeking our advice. We’ll do this by working with community organisations like local religious groups.

Overall, this is a tall order but by working with Thames Reach, Providence Row and others as well as help from local residents, I really believe we can provide a better service for people at risk of ending up on the streets.

How can you help? If you’re concerned about someone sleeping rough, get in touch with StreetLink, so that they can connect them to the local support and services they need. Contact 0300 500 0914, download the StreetLink app or make a referral on their website.