Windsor and Maidenhead council says there are no more rough sleepers on the streets

The council has claimed there are no longer any rough sleepers on the streets following the launch of its rough sleeper initiative.

The update was given at the health and wellbeing board on Tuesday by Tracy Hendren, the head of housing, environmental health and trading standards at the Royal Borough.

Tracy said in 2019 there were 40 rough sleepers during its count which takes place at the end of each year. In 2020 this number was 19.

She said: “I can say as of today we don’t have anyone sleeping rough on the streets and if anyone is sleeping rough we will be looking to work with them immediately and place them on the pathway.”

The rough sleeping initiative launched in December 2019 and has three stages.

It involves identifying what support the rough sleeper will need, put the individual in a programme of accommodation and support including appropriate action from wider agencies and assisting the former rough sleeper into sustainable independent accommodation.

When asked on the potential challenges to the service and lessons learnt during the pandemic, Tracy said it had been a ‘rollercoaster ride’.

She said: “One of the things that’s been very difficult over the last year to predict is we’ve gone from having a
programme for those that want to engage with us to the Government being very clear there was an everybody in campaign and all local authorities needed to get all rough sleepers in and off the streets [when the coronavirus pandemic struck last March].

“This significantly increased our numbers.

“It’s been difficult to determine what our needs are as we had so many more people as a direct result of COVID needing accommodation and those that were on the wider streets of England and how we as one local authority meant we’ve been able to get those off the streets in the Royal Borough.

“We are now in a position where we haven’t got anyone on the streets and we have been able to flex and look at the pathway to determine what those needs are.”

The meeting also heard about the borough’s alternative giving scheme which allows residents to tap to donate at contactless donation points in Ascot, Eton, Maidenhead and Windsor.

The ‘Tap 4 Change’ scheme was launched last year after being pushed back several times due to the coronavirus pandemic with more than £2,000 in donations received so far. Its aim is to deter street activity such as begging and provide a way for residents to donate.

Proposals for use of the funding receiving will be discussed at the next Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Forum in September.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Ross McWilliams (Con, Cox Green) lead member for housing said the council has made ‘huge progess’ reducing numbers but admitted the number of rough sleepers on the street could ‘continue to fluctuate’.

He said: “While the current figure is a snapshot of verified rough sleepers, and the figures will continue to fluctuate, especially in these uncertain times, the significant reduction since 2019 highlights the fantastic strides we’ve made as a borough since the start of the pandemic to help our most vulnerable residents on a life-changing journey into stable accommodation.”

W If you are concerned about losing your home and would like some advice, you can complete a self-referral to the Housing Options Team online at: rbwm.housingjigsaw.co.uk/accounts/account/register

If you are concerned about someone rough sleeping complete a StreetLink referall at www.streetlink.org.uk.

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