Mayor’s new ‘Rapid Response Team’ to boost help for rough sleepers

18 July 2019

 

  • New ‘rapid response team’ will get help to rough sleepers faster all year round
  • Dedicated team funded by City Hall will be sent out to rough sleepers referred by the public through Streetlink
  • As temperatures rise, Sadiq will work with boroughs to ensure homeless day shelters are open, offering immediate support to vulnerable people

 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is boosting the number of outreach workers through a new ‘rapid response team’, which will help rough sleepers off the streets all year round when members of the public use the Streetlink app to identify people they are concerned about.

 

The Mayor’s new dedicated ‘rapid response team’ will operate across London. The team will operate in 23 boroughs, with City Hall providing additional funding to specifically support local arrangements in the remaining 10. The team will be deployed in response to reports of rough sleepers made by Londoners using the Streetlink app, providing faster support to those on the street. By responding to new reports of rough sleepers, the new team will help free up existing outreach teams to focus on helping those who have been living on the streets for a long time and have complex needs.

 

With warmer daytime weather likely in coming months, the Mayor is also working with boroughs to support rough sleepers during hot weather by ensuring that homeless day shelters are open to offer immediate support to vulnerable people. Homeless people are especially vulnerable to dehydration, heatstroke and heat exhaustion. Sadiq is using the same severe weather protocol he put in place over the winter to warn of freezing conditions to notify boroughs of impending high temperatures and encourage them to extend access to homeless day centre services, provide access to water, sunscreen, and immediate support.

 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said:The rise in homelessness is a national disgrace, and at City Hall we are doing all we can to help people who have been forced onto the streets as a result of the Government’s policies, including their cuts to welfare and to support for vulnerable people.

 

“Londoners themselves can also play a key role in helping rough sleepers, by letting our street outreach teams know about people they are concerned about. My new ‘rapid response team’ will mean we can now respond faster when Londoners let us know about people on the streets, helping to make sure they get the support they need as quickly as possible.

 

“We know homeless people on the street can be particularly vulnerable when the temperature rises. This summer I will also be working with councils to help make sure shelter and support is available for rough sleepers during hot weather.”

 

Councillor Chris Best, Deputy Mayor of Lewisham, said: “Hot weather can be just as dangerous for people sleeping in the streets as cold weather so it’s vital that we do whatever we can to help those at risk. 

 

“Outreach workers are key to supporting vulnerable rough sleepers into a place of safety so the Mayor of London’s additional funding to increase this valuable resource is very welcome.”

 

In April, the Mayor hailed Londoners’ generosity after they donated a record £247,742 to his winter rough sleeping campaign, which was split equally between 22 London homelessness charities who came together as part of the campaign.

 

The Mayor is also expanding his rough-sleeping services significantly this year, doubling his rough-sleeping budget for 2019/20 to at least £18 million – up from £8.5 million in the year he came to into office. City Hall works with local councils, charities, faith groups, and other organisations all year round to help rough sleepers off the streets. In the last year, 3,875 people were helped by frontline Mayoral services, up from 3,123 the year before.

Matt Harrison, Director of StreetLink, said: “Sleeping rough is dangerous and bad for people’s health at any time of year, but it naturally becomes an even greater concern during hot weather as well as cold.

 

“When a member of the public sees someone sleeping rough they want to help, but don’t always know how. This is where StreetLink comes in. By downloading and using the StreetLink app, more people sleeping rough can receive swift support during the summer and throughout the year.

 

“We are pleased to be working with the Mayor of London on his rough sleeping campaign.  We share his aim for frontline services to be better supported so that people sleeping rough can be helped to get off the streets and end their homelessness for good.”

 

Last winter, organisations including football clubs and trade unions offered their space to boost the total capacity of shelters. The ‘floating hub’, a new mobile City Hall service that offers targeted support to rough-sleeping hotspots around London, ran in an empty building in Camden awaiting demolition for HS2 for the first two weeks of April, supporting people off the streets into accommodation – as well as in several other locations.

Sadiq has called on more private developers and businesses across London to offer their empty buildings and properties as locations from which City Hall can run extra shelters and services for rough sleepers. In May he visited the former Clerkenwell fire station building, which has now been turned into London’s first LGBTIQ+ homeless shelter.

Notes to editors

For more information on the Mayor’s rough sleeping campaign, visit: https://www.london.gov.uk/helplondonshomeless

More information about Streetlink can be found at: https://www.streetlink.org.uk/

To donate to the London Homeless Charities Group via Go Fund Me, visit: https://uk.gofundme.com/endroughsleeping

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