Welcome to the Faith & VCS Homeless & Vulnerable Forum new web site for Gloucester and the wider area. To find out more go to About Us.... About Homelessness...what is it?....Homelessness is devastating, dangerous and isolating. On average, homeless people die at just 47 years old. People sleeping on the street are almost 17 times more likely to have been victims of violence. More than one in three people sleeping rough have been deliberately hit or kicked or experienced some other form of violence whilst homeless. Homeless people are over nine times more likely to take their own life than the general population. Read more at link to Crisis.
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Mother Teresa, now Saint Teresa of Calcutta, said “Not all of us can do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.”
- Disability News Service - Maria Lane is just the latest PIP claimant to come forward – following the launch of a DNS investigation earlier this year – to describe how healthcare professionals employed by Atos and fellow government contractor Capita have been guilty of widespread dishonesty in the reports they compile after carrying out face-to-face PIP assessments. Read article here about Maria's inhuman treatment by the DWP.
- Rent Receipts…Concerns on failure to issue Rent Receipts by B&B’s, Guest Houses, hostels, emergency accommodation etc., utilised by the City Councils Homeless Team. Reports of individuals being evicted for non-payment of rent and then have their duty ceased by the City Councils Homeless Team who then find the individual ‘intentionally homeless’ even though there may not be any proof that rent has been paid or not. Members are concerned that people’s belongings can be just packed up and put out on the street for anyone to take. Motion passed unanimously on the 21st June: That the Forum considers any failure to issue receipts for rent or asscociated service charges as unacceptable and a major concern and that this is followed up, together with the City Council, as an urgent priority.
Report reveals scale of food bank use in the UK...30th May 2017.
Project by 'Independent Food Aid Network' , mapping Food Aid, finds at least 2,000 food banks giving out parcels, with demand continuing to grow. Read more at Disabled Go News... and read more at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/29/report-reveals-scale-of-food-bank-use-in-the-uk-ifan.
A new perinatal mental health service. Almost £1.5 million worth of funding is being dedicated to developing a new specialist mental health service for pregnant women and new mums in Gloucestershire. Go to MH&W page for more info.
- World Suicide Prevention Day. Service at the Cathedral to mark World Suicide Prevention Day and to celebrate the lives of those lost to suicide... go to NEWS for more info.
Long-awaited peer reviews suggest ministers failed to act after deaths of ‘vulnerable’ claimants, read here.
- Food Bank Boom - Food Banks handed out a record number of meals last year after the reported 'chaotic introduction of universal credit', the govermnents welfare overhaul. Source The Guardian 25/04/2017, see chart and more info in NEWS.
- The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry are spearheading the Heads Together campaign to end stigma around mental health. Duke of Cambridge gets Heads Together with Lady Gaga to help show young people that it's #oktosay. There are loads of different ways to talk - #HeadsTogether ...
- Government admits failing to record actions after benefit suicide inquiries...go to NEWS for more info. The government failed for more than three years to keep a record of what actions it took – if any – after carrying out secret reviews into the suicides of benefit claimants, Disability News Service (DNS) can reveal.
- Latest GCM Newsletter Issue 27.
- Voluntary Sector Update - May 2017. All the latest news, events and info from the Glos VCSAlliance.
- Health and Wellbeing Forum. Update from VCSAlliance. Here are links to reports and media releases completed by Healthwatch Gloucestershire which they promised at our most recent Forum meeting... http://www.glosvcsalliance.org.uk/health-wellbeing-forum/.
- From 1st April Healthwatch Gloucestershire is being delivered by Evolving Communities CIC who operate the Wiltshire Healthwatch. They have said they will be looking over the recommendations and key messages from reports done over the last year to see what they need to monitor and respond to under the new contract. The County Council undertook a competetive tendering process. Members have asked why the change? will the focus be the same? what were the score bids, quality element is important... our Healthwatch will be weaker wont it being run but Healthwatch Wiltshire?...web site is very poor...will there be cuts in provision/staff to residents?...alot of questions but our aim must be to again build a close working relationship....
- Great News. Support at The Cavern is set to continue beyond the pilot period. Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group is continuing funding to the service. Kingfisher Treasure Seekers say, 'We have been so pleased at how this low level out of hours mental health service has made such a difference in the lives of those attending. Since July 2016 we have had over 3,500 visits and it has become a second home for many. Thank you to everyone who has made this innovative service a reality and a special thank you to all our volunteers who give up their time to support those most in need'.
- Have you or a loved one had mental health issues? Martin Lewis's charity, the Money & Mental Health Policy Institute, is looking for people with this experience to join its community to help test ideas to change things for the better. Find how to join and/or watch a video about it. Related: MSE’s free Mental Health and Debt Help guide.
- Family Lives is looking for Volunteer Mental Health Buddies. Can you offer someone recovering from a mental illness support to:
- Improve self-management and coping skills
- Reduce social isolation
- Increase physical and social activity?
- 'Mental Health in STP'... the Royal College of Psychiatrists interactive map, ...HSJ reveals that for the Gloucestershire description the percentage change in mental health planned spend from 15/16, to this year 16/17... is investing 11.44% more in mental health as a proportion of the increase in its total budget. Commissioners are serious and ambitious about improving mental health services and achieving parity of esteem but are working in an incredibly financially challenged climate and deserve our full support.
- Great news - The House of Commons passed the Homelessness Reduction Bill.
The Homelessness Reduction Bill is the first opportunity in 40 years (since the 1977 housing act) to secure the changes needed to better tackle homelessness and stop people needlessly suffering on our streets. The first reading happened with St Mungos, CRISIS and Shelter working in partnership and attending the house of commons. Read more at http://www.mungos.org/documents/7229/7229.pdf Visit Crisis campaign website: www.crisis.org.uk/nooneturnedaway.
- Citizen Article - Read that Gloucester is said to be a 'Homeless Hotspot' says report where people are most at risk of homelessness. Gloucester City has fifth worst record in SW Region according to campaign group Shelter. Shelter says 303 people are homeless in the City, equivalent to one in 425 of the population. Cllr Kate Haigh said, 'These figures are shocking...'. It was heartening to read that Cllr Colin Organ, Cabinet Member for housing, said, 'Combating homelessness is a high priority...' ....the Forum is concerned about the Council cutting homelessness services budgets in their budget consultation (see below), so we say homelessness services save lives and must be a higher priority compared to say car parking services? We appeal to the Council to work together more with Faith and VCS groups to help reduce homelessness.
- St Mungo's Broadway lost the Homeless Outreach Contract to P3 from 1st January 2017. We thank St Mungo's for all the amazing work they have done for our homeless and vulnerable. St Mungo's self funded the last three months up to 1st Jan because the council had no budget. Read HERE. The Forum encouraged the Health & Wellbeing Board to sign up to St Mungo's Homeless Health Charter.
- Shelter was launched to highlight a homelessness crisis. Now they say we are in the middle of another one.
Research launched today reveals that over a quarter of a million people in England are homeless. Most of these people are living in temporary accommodation provided by councils. Some are living in homeless hostels and some are sleeping rough. They say this is a conservative measurement. Many more people are homeless, but hidden, such as sofa surfers as highlighted by the Forum .
Great News - New funding boost to tackle homelessness, bid is a success. Read more here. Citizen article 7th March. Forum forwards supporting letter for bid for funding to the Department of Communities and Local Government to commission a ‘social impact bond’ project to work with entrenched rough sleepers; present providers are unable to work with long-term roughsleepers in a long-term, innovative way, to help stop the 'revolving door' syndrome – link to original prospectus... https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/561310/HPP_Rough_Sleeping_Prospectus.pdf.
- Councils are required to submit yearly Rough Sleeper Counts to central government. The official figures for 2016, taken as autumn, will be estimated this year. They are: Gloucester City up from 13 (2015) to 23, a 77% increase; Cheltenham up from 1 (2015) to 11, a 1000% increase; Stroud up from 1 to 2, a 100% increase. This does not include sofa-surfers.
- Update: Read the Forum's submission/representation HERE. Previous: Concern raised by members about City Council Budget Consultations and any budget cuts to homelessness services and housing; Forum email circulated with advice requested from CHC. Is the consultation unconsciously biased against the homeless? The Forum hasn't been consulted, have stakeholders been consulted? Extract from consultation as follows:- Councillor David Norman, Gloucester City Council’s Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources said: The Council has met considerable challenge in funding but continues to strive to deliver quality service to both residents and the City. We value residents’ views and have set out some questions. Your answers will help us in deciding how to meet the financial challenge. Take the survey.
A reported worrying increase in evictions from council run supported housing. There is a 6 week period where those evicted are not allowed back, so where do they go? deliberately made homeless for the public to refer them to Streetlink, onto St Mungo's now P3, to find on the streets, into START,....... there must be a better way. We will contact Oonagh at the County Council to first assess extent. Raised at the last Forum Meeting that this is not good enough, risk to life, unsafe practice, where did 6 weeks come from?...; all agreed unacceptable. Being followed up. Report of one person being evicted onto the streets because he was seen with a knife,..... he was self harming.
IMPORTANT: Healthwatch Gloucestershire Report - Report on access to health and social care services by marginalised and vulnerable people in Gloucester. It was heartening to read, in the HWG Report, that the feedback about the Homeless Healthcare Team (HHT) was particularly positive and should be used as a model of Best Practice. Read the article in the Citizen here. The independence of Healthwatch was critical.
CGL Gloucestershire Drug & Alchohol Service. While Turning Point was a service which has clearly been recognised for good practice by the CQC in their recent inspection report the service will no longer be provided by Turning Point Read More due to the contract being awarded to another provider. Read more. We praise all the good work undertaken by Turning Point.
New drug and alcohol recovery serice, CGL, took over from Turning Point on the 1st January, read latest news here. Partner ARA. We have signed up to receive CGL Newsletters, to be stored in NEWS.
- Follow Joy Hibbins on Twitter. Founder and Director of Suicide Crisis, a charity which runs a Suicide Crisis Centre in Cheltenham, UK
- 'Please don't call us difficult to engage'. Very interesting article for mental health professionals...read here.
- The County Council 'Joint Strategic Needs Assessment' (JSNA), unfortunately does not include Homeless Healthcare. We recognise the JSNA as a strategic document and at present there is a very important omission, sadly we were told Homeless Health was not a priority as yet. Click HERE to read about JSNA's. Click here for the subsequent helpful 'JSNA Briefing Paper' for the Forums meeting on the 15th June, Agenda Item 4. Good News: The Director of Public Health has noted the need to conduct a health needs assessment for the homeless healthcare and this features in their work plan for 2017/18. A health needs assessment is large undertaking. A work plan is being finalised so in April the Council will be in touch with the Forum to advise when this work will take place and the process for completing the health needs assessment.
- Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England Insight Newsletter. Go to 'NEWS' for updates.
- What's New in Mental Health - go to NEWS and Health & Wellbeing.
- For the Autumn 2015 latest official Street Count statistics of rough sleepers for Gloucester go to Homeless page.
Our Homeless Health Review encouraged Gloucestershires Health & Wellbeing Board to sign up St Mungo's Charter for Homeless Health. To date 42, now 43, H&WB Boards around England have signed up. Great news,...Gloucestershire's H&WB Board signed up as at JULY 2016. We had a meeting with the CCG and Gloucestershire Care Services, see notes of meeting in members area, (other minutes) and the CCG kindly offered to liaise with the H&WB to take this forward on behalf of the Forum.
- The Policy Research Unit. The contribution of faith organisations to the voluntary sector in local communities. Read the PRU Document here.
Please note that the content of the Faith & VCS Homeless Forum web site is for general information purposes only and is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. While the Forum is not resposible for the content of external linked web sites, being provided only as a 'convenience', we hope they offer you the help or information you are looking for.