What's in place for those at risk of homelessness this winter?
Published: 3 December 2021
Whilst the most visible form of homelessness is rough sleeping and perhaps the first image that many of us would consider, most of the homelessness ‘approaches’ to the council are the less visible forms of homelessness: where households are affected by family or friends being unable to accommodate them (34%), the end of a private rented tenancy (17%), domestic abuse (24%), relationship breakdown (12%), eviction from supported housing (14%). Unemployment and illness may also be contributory factors that have caused homelessness.
Derby Homes is responsible for coordinating the city’s response to homelessness and for delivering the Council’s Statutory Homelessness Services. Our priorities are to prevent households from becoming homeless in the first place and to relieve it for those who are already homeless or sleeping rough.
As with last year, our teams are working with the additional challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, which poses serious risks for rough sleepers. Those without a home and sleeping rough are significantly more likely to have underlying health conditions, including respiratory problems, than the wider population.
A successful rollout of the COVID vaccination programme has seen 242 rough sleepers and single homeless people receive their first COVID vaccination and a 132 of these have received a second dose. A further targeted campaign by the EMAS Homelessness Paramedic will see more people receive boosters and flu vaccinations over the coming weeks.
Ordinarily, rough sleepers are also ‘far less likely’ to be able to follow Public Health England’s advice on self-isolation, social distancing and hand washing. The collective approach taken in the city has seen every person who is homeless or at risk of homelessness offered accommodation as Derby continues to operate an ‘Everyone In’ approach.
Throughout the year, there are a wide range of services available in Derby to support homeless people and rough sleepers, including the Council’s Housing Options service, the city’s street outreach teams, hostels networks, the Safe Space initiative, Multi Agency Rough Sleepers Hub and supported housing providers networks.
The city has a specific plan in place to address rough sleeping during periods of cold weather, called the Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP) working in conjunction with the ‘Everyone In’ offer. The plan ensures that no-one need sleep out especially during the cold weather. Every effort is made to engage with individuals accommodated during the period, so they do not return on the streets and are able to access the accommodation and support services required. A similar plan is also in place for very warm weather in summer.
Partner agencies in Derby work to provide cover for the whole winter period, rather than follow the Government’s guidelines where the weather is predicted to fall below zero for three consecutive nights. The plan is delivered jointly by a number of organisations, including Derby City Council, Derby Homes, Derbyshire Constabulary, Public Health, probation services, specialist housing providers, hostels, and voluntary and faith organisations.
The severe weather emergency provision is now single-room accommodation made available across the city to further reduce the risk of infection from COVID–19. Government guidance around COVID-19 infection control, communal sleeping spaces are considered unsafe.
Rehousing Engagement and Support Team (REST)
The REST team is the city’s outreach service. They carry out daily visits to engage with anyone who is rough sleeping. They monitor, liaise, signpost and give support to those they find to ensure they can access shelter, warmth, food and begin to take steps towards rehousing. In addition to outreach services, the team also provide support to those in insecure emergency placements such as bed and breakfasts and shared housing to prevent a return to rough sleeping.
The Housing Options Centre at The Council House
The Housing Options service continues to provide all normal services by telephone rather than in person at the Council House. The Council House is open for people to contact the Housing Options Centre if they do not have any other access to a telephone. The service is available to all customers (or professionals who are supporting customers) who are homeless or at risk of rough sleeping to arrange for emergency accommodation for those that need it.
- Housing Options Service - 01332 888777 (option 5)
- Care Line (after 5pm) - 01332 956607 – for the public
Safe Space is a service providing entrenched rough sleepers with a ‘safe space’ to get help and support in the day and to be temporarily accommodated overnight. It is open 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. Those who are rough sleeping can present at Safe Space for hot drinks, gloves and hats when the temperatures are low. In November 2020, the facility was updated to cope with coronavirus restrictions and now allows guests to be accommodated safely overnight in specially designed, sleeping pods.
Derby are proud to have a dedicated, award-winning homelessness paramedic as part of the Safe Space initiative, who provides emergency health care to some of the most vulnerable people in the city. The EMAS Homelessness Paramedic operates from Safe Space and conducts outreach throughout Derby City. The role provides health advice and interventions for rough sleepers who are presenting as physically unwell.
The Homelessness Community Psychiatric Nurse also provides support, assessments and advice for rough sleepers who have mental health issues.
Safe Space is provided by Derby City Mission, contracted by the Office of the Police Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for Derbyshire. It is funded by Derby Homes, the OPCC, Public Health, Derbyshire Constabulary and Rough Sleeper Initiative Grant funding provided by Department of Levelling Up Homes and Communities.
Milestone House provides emergency accommodation for single adults and couples without children. Referrals for a room at Milestone House are coordinated by the Housing Options Centre. The hostel is managed by Derby Homes and has 36 rooms for Derby’s homeless and rough sleepers.
Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme
Derby was awarded £757,500 in government funding to help support rough sleepers. Similar to Grant funding received last year, this years funding has secured 10 additional units of accommodation specifically for rough sleepers. Those units are being purchased by Derby City Council and all units will be occupied by rough sleepers by the end of March 2022.
Christmas Opening Hours
During the Christmas break, we run a limited emergency service from The Council House on 29-31 December. For urgent housing advice, people can visit the Council House on these days if they do not have access to a telephone or call 01332 888777 (option 5) between 9am – 5pm. We return to full service as normal on Tuesday 4 January 2022.
Outside of these days and times, individuals can get urgent advice by calling Careline on 01332 786968 or visiting the Derby Homes webpage.
Our outreach team (REST) will also be working out and around Derby on 23-24, and 29-31 December, providing support to anyone found to be rough sleeping and arranging access to emergency accommodation.
How to help someone you’re concerned about
If you see someone you think may be rough sleeping or is in immediate risk of becoming homeless:
During the day you should encourage them call 01332 88777 (option 5) and ask for the Housing Options Team or go to the Council House if it is open and they don’t have access to a phone.
In the evenings or at weekends Careline provide emergency cover 01332 956607.
If you are unable to find somewhere or you are worried about someone, you can call Street Link on 0300 500 0914. Street Link is a national service that enables members of the public to connect people sleeping rough with the local services that can support them.
Want to volunteer or make a donation?
If you want to do more to help out, you could make a donation of either funding or items to a local registered homeless charity.
How do we record the number of rough sleepers?
The official definition of a rough sleeper comes from guidelines from the Ministry of Communities and Local Government. All local authorities assess rough sleeping on one night between October and November; these figures, made up from street counts and evidence-based estimates are submitted annually to the government.
Counts are coordinated with other local authorities so that people will not be counted twice (for instance, if someone sleeps in Derby one night and Nottingham the next). Our team are out on the street most days and so know most of Derby’s rough sleepers and where they typically bed down. On the night of the count, the team cover all of Derby city centre.
The last street estimate in Derby, in November 2020, identified 5 rough sleeping individuals, a reduction from 14 in 2019, 26 in 2018 and 37 the year before.
The official figures for the 2021 rough sleeper estimate will be announced by the Government in early 2022.