Chichester gets more than £230K to help rough sleepers
Chichester District Council successfully bid for £230,465 of funding from the government’s rough sleeper initiative, as part of its ongoing commitment to support rough sleepers.
The money will help the council to further expand the outreach work that it currently has in place. It will also enable Stonepillow, a registered charity, which provides a lifeline to homeless people, to open its Chichester Hub seven days a week.
Leader of Chichester District Council, cllr Eileen Lintill said: “Rough sleeping is something that we all want to reduce and combat.
“As a council we are working closely with our partners, charities and community groups to help prevent rough sleeping in a variety of ways, and this grant will help us to build on this vital work even further.
“In particular, it will enable us to increase our outreach work, which has been making a significant difference.
“Our outreach officers and our Senior Community Warden go out every day to offer support to all rough sleepers. Their dedication and perseverance has meant that lives have been changed. Many of those who have accepted support are now in accommodation and getting back into work. Others are engaging with services and starting to turn their lives around.
“We are also very lucky that the district has so many incredible charities and community groups who also play a critical role – and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for the work that they do to help rough sleepers. It’s very much a team effort.”
Between June and December 2019, 27 people were provided with support that enabled them to turn their lives around and get off the streets. Help varies from case to case, including accessing mental health support, accessing a refuge to flee domestic violence, returning to their home country and accessing accommodation.
Lisa, the council’s outreach worker; Helen, a Navigator from Stonepillow; and Declan, the council’s senior community warden, go out onto the streets of Chichester on a daily basis to help those who are rough sleeping.
Lisa said: “Rough sleeping is a really complex issue. We go out and speak to rough sleepers every day. Some accept support, but others refuse it.
"Regardless of this, we continue offering help. In one case, I repeatedly offered support to a rough sleeper every day, over the period of three weeks. I was made up when he eventually accepted our help.
"It’s these moments that make the job so worthwhile because you know that by being consistent and building up trust you can make a difference to their lives.”
Every person has different needs and Lisa has helped people, from reuniting families to helping someone seek the mental health support that they required.
“I would speak to one particular person on a daily basis, and faced constant abuse from them. It was obvious their mental health was deteriorating rapidly and so we were able to bring specialists in to help. I bumped into this person not so long ago and his mental health and wellbeing had massively improved.”
In another case, Lisa found a 65 year old lady from America who was rough sleeping in Chichester. She had lost touch with her family in America and had no one who could care for her in the UK, so Lisa was determined to help!
“After carrying out a range of enquiries, I managed to locate her family and then I asked the immigration services to contact them. With the help of the immigration services, we managed to get her a flight home, where her brother was waiting to meet her.
"This would not have been possible without the joint working with all the agencies involved and especially HEART, which provided accommodation while resources were accessed and the arrangements for her return were made.
“We work very closely with Stonepillow, who support homeless people 365 days a year. They have a navigator, Helen, who I work very closely with. Together, we directly support rough sleepers by helping them access services, such as taking them to the job centre to help them back into work, arranging medical appointments and securing accommodation.
"Declan is also always out around the city and helps to signpost rough sleepers to the support on offer. So collectively, we are reaching out to everyone who is sleeping on the streets.”
Declan, senior community warden at the council, highlighted further challenges that the team face.
Declan said: “What people don’t realise is that not everyone on the streets is homeless. Unfortunately, there are some people who come into the city to beg for money. It can be very difficult to tell the difference between the two.
"Yesterday, we had nine people come into the city just for the day. What you can be assured of is that everyone who is out on the streets – regardless of their situation - is made aware of the support that is available.
"I hand out leaflets, which include a map and a list of the places offering support, and I then call Lisa to make her aware. If someone is rough sleeping, the help is there, and you can be assured that between us, we will find them and offer support.”
Lisa is confident that the strategies that are in place are working,
She added: “I’ve been a homeless support worker for many years and I can honestly say that there is more hope and support in Chichester than any of the other places that I have worked. There is a lot of help available from the council, charities, support groups and other agencies. It makes my job so much easier, because I know I can make a difference."
“What we really want people to be aware of is that if they want to donate money, it is best to give this to one of our local charities rather than giving money directly. Food and refreshments; as well as showering and laundry facilities are provided by a range of local charities and are available to all rough sleepers on a daily basis.
"If they access the services available to meet their basic needs, they will also receive support to access a doctor, mental health services, deposits and suitable accommodation. This empowers them to move on in a positive way.
“We are so grateful that people want to help, and we can assure you that donations to local charities will be used to help turn lives around.”
If people want to donate to local charities or groups they can find more information by visiting:
If people are concerned about an individual rough sleeping, they should fill in the details on www.streetlink.org.uk This referral will go directly to our Outreach Workers, who will attempt to find the individual and assess their needs.