Westminster City Council’s new assessment centre will aim to ensure that people sleeping rough in the area do not need to spend a second night on the street.
Launching its latest Strategy on Rough Sleeping (2017-2022), at their new state of the art assessment centre, operated by the Passage in Victoria, Councillor Antonia Cox, Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Licensing, said:
“Most people sleeping rough you see in Westminster have a range of needs beyond just housing, often involving mental health or substance misuse problems.
“Thanks to our rapid intervention and assessment, three out of the four new rough sleepers we see every night do not spend a second night out on the streets. But we could do more with your help.
“We spend more on specialist services to help people sleeping rough than any other local authority in the country and we are proud of our world class services in Westminster.
“But there is more we can do and we need residents and people who work or visit here to help by visiting streetlink.org.uk to tell us about rough sleepers that they are worried about so that our 24/7 rapid response outreach workers can find those in need of support and offer them a route off the street.”
The strategy sets out what a dangerous place the street can be. When someone is sleeping rough it is important that they are quickly identified and reported to local services where they can be offered help and support to prevent them having to spend further nights on the street.
Cllr Cox continued: “The vast majority of people sleeping rough come from outside Westminster. Our new Assessment Centre can help people find routes off the streets quickly with access to supported accommodation or by reconnecting them with social and health care in their home towns or countries, where they are much more likely to have contacts and social support networks.
“Sleeping rough is dangerous and the longer a person is on the streets, the greater the risk of them experiencing issues with their health, developing a drug or alcohol problem or becoming involved in crime & Anti-Social Behaviour. We’re encouraging people to let us know if they see a rough sleeper they are worried about so that we can get them the help that they need.”
Westminster works with a range of local organisations and charities, including CSTM, the Passage, St Mungo’s and Veterans Aid to offer support for vulnerable people across the City to prevent homelessness.
Please help keep vulnerable people safe by reporting rough sleeping to Streetlink at streetlink.org.uk or Tel: 0300 500 0914.
Petra Salva, Director of Rough Sleeper and Ex Offender Services, St Mungo’s, said:
“The new Assessment Centre is a significant development to help people get off the streets more quickly into somewhere safe to start rebuilding their lives. The longer people remain sleeping rough the more harm it causes.
“We support people to move away from the streets, have a place to call home and to rebuild their lives.”
CEO of Veterans Aid Dr Hugh Milroy said:
“VA is strategically placed at the Victoria transport hub because so many homeless people are drawn to London. Invariably some of them are veterans.
“This charity has been successfully preventing and addressing homelessness in the ex-service community for 85 years and through partners like Westminster City Council we are able to help identify and help those on our doorstep even more speedily.
“Very few of those we help go back to street life. There is no need for any genuine veteran to be homeless and I am delighted to be part of an initiative that further facilitates our own long established commitment to ‘no first night out’.”