Working in partnership to help the homeless
Started in mid-November, the Homeless Outreach Street Triage (HOST) initiative has transformed the way we engage with rough sleepers in Shropshire, helping to ensure they have access to the help available to them.
HOST is a partnership between Shropshire Council’s housing services, Shrewsbury Ark, the Community Mental Health Team, Shropshire Recovery Partnership, and the police. The team aims to visit homeless people in the HOST car, usually within two days of them being reported as sleeping rough, and get help to them as soon as possible. The longer someone sleeps rough, the greater the risk that they will become trapped on the streets and vulnerable to becoming a victim of crime, developing drug or alcohol problems, or experiencing problems with their health.
As well as helping people that are new to living on the streets, the HOST car initiative has proved successful in supporting ‘entrenched’ rough sleepers, ie people who have been homeless for a longer period of time. Prior to this initiative, there wasn’t the same rapid multi-agency support, which made it difficult for services to engage. To date, six entrenched rough sleepers have been placed into secure accommodation.
Inspector Ed Hancox of West Mercia Police said:
“Since the HOST car has been in use, we've seen a reduction in people sleeping on the streets of Shrewsbury. This has resulted in a reduction in anti-social behaviour and shoplifting. The feedback I'm getting from the general public is that they're genuinely appreciative of the work going into the project.”
Tim Compton of Shrewsbury Ark said:
“Having additional resource has been really helpful to add a different element to the work the Ark does with those living on the streets. Using a more joined up approach has improved the outcomes for many of the entrenched rough sleepers in the county.”
What should you do if you find someone sleeping rough?
You needn’t approach the person: Streetlink will take some basic details from you, and then arrange for the HOST team to make contact.
Streetlink is a national service that enables anyone to alert councils about rough sleepers in their area. They're funded by the government as part of its commitment to end rough sleeping.
Should I give money?
While it is your choice, please bear in mind that not all rough sleepers beg, and not all beggers are rough sleepers. Also, handing over money to someone begging can inadvertently keep them on the streets and feed drug and alcohol addiction. In order to help them in the long term, you can contribute to the Shrewsbury alternative giving scheme. 100% of donations will go to helping homeless people in Shropshire. The fund has already helped people recently placed in accommodation with some essentials for them to set up home, including furniture and basic kitchen equipment.