What You NTK About The New Plans To End Rough Sleeping In The UK
This HAS to happen.
Earlier this week the UK government revealed they had big plans: to end rough sleeping on Britain’s streets by 2027. They released a strategy (which you can read here) promising to spend £100 million within the next two years to tackle it, focusing on prevention, intervention and recovery. “Nobody should have to sleep rough, and that’s why we must do all we can to help the most vulnerable in our society get the support they need,” our very own Prime Minister Theresa May commented.
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It was fab to hear the government announce it was committed to tackling homelessness, which most people agree is a HUGE issue in the UK right now, but the news was bittersweet.
Why? James Brokenshire (Secretary of State for Housing) told BBC Radio 4 on the Today programme that half of the £100 mil had just been “reprioritised” from existing budgets in his department, while the rest was already being spent on rough sleeping initiatives. Basically, the government aren’t spending any NEW money on tackling homelessness, just reshuffling it. The strategy itself also received some criticism.
What more could they do?
Members of the government’s advisory panel for the strategy, including homelessness charities Crisis, Shelter and St Mungos, made a joint statement saying that it was a great step towards ending homelessness and will make a “real difference to people’s lives”. BUT the advisors argued that the government needed to focus much more on preventing rough sleeping than they said they would in their strategy to actually be effective.
They wanted the government to also promise that more social housing would be built, more security would be given to renters, that there would be reversals of government migrant policies so they aren’t left homeless, and that healthcare, mental health and substance misuse services would be available for those who need it most.
Rough sleeping is the most extreme form of homelessness, and it makes sense for it to be a main focus as it puts people in most danger. But there are many other factors that push people out onto the streets in the first place (for example, having left a violent relationship, prison, care or the army with nowhere to go, experiencing mental health problems, losing a job, or not being able to afford rent), and those causes need to be focused on too if we really want to put a stop to rough sleeping long term.
How bad is the rough sleeping situation rn?
It's tricky to count rough sleepers, but statistics gathered in the autumn of last year estimated there were 4,751 people sleeping on the streets in the UK. One thing we're sure about is that that number has been increasing over the years - in 2017 it had risen by 15% from 2016. In fact, the number of rough sleepers in the UK has been on the rise for the last seven years in a row according to official figures.
It's horrible seeing so many rough sleepers out on the streets - especially since it's such a dangerous place to be at night - but rough sleeping is only the most visible type of homelessness. What lots of people don't realise is that there are many others without a home who stay in temporary accommodation like hostels, B&Bs or shelters, or are one of the hidden homeless sleeping on a friend or relative's sofa or in a squat.
What can I do to help?
Luckily there are many amazing organisations that are more passionate than ever about ending homelessness. In fact, leading UK homeless charity Crisis recently published their own detailed plan about how we need to go about it.
Everybody In is based on loads of research and expert advice and lays down the best ways to solve our homelessness problem. The charity wants to raise awareness, shift negative perceptions about homelessness and prove that if everyone comes together and does their bit, we really can end homelessness for good.
If you're passionate about ending homelessness, then joining Everybody In might be a good way start taking action. Click here to pledge your support, and through the site you can even send a message to your local politician without having to put pen to paper. Easy. Click here for more ways to get involved. We're so in.