Welcome to the Faith & VCS Homeless Forum new web site for Gloucester and the wider area. The Forum's aim is to advocate for those 'without a voice', increase awareness and understanding of homelessness and vulnerability and encourage partnership working across all sectors. Members shall share experiences and work collectively to help support and improve services for those at risk of being made homeless and those who are currently experiencing homelessness in Gloucester and the wider area.
Members should include but not be limited to, representatives from all faiths in Gloucester, Voluntary & Community Sector and relevant Service Providers. The Terms of Reference detail our overriding purpose, its aims and objectives, membership, organisation, structure and administrative arrangements.
The Forum meets every quarter and invites speakers to raise/increase awareness, talk on themes of concern and interest, etc. The group can also invite service providers to meetings to help explain arrangements in more detail so that there is a shared understanding which can be disseminated as appropriate through member’s networks.
The On Your Doorstep web site works in partnership with Churches Together and is an important link with this website. Both web sites focus on helping with community engagement. Churches Together has supported and helped organise the setting up of the Forum and is a valued member of the Forum.
The Forum is supported by the County Homelessness Coordinator (CHC). The role was created through the partnership of all six Local Authorities in Gloucestershire with the aim of reducing street homelessness and its impact in the County. See News for latest info.
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.”
- 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.
- BBC iPlayer - Inside Out West - 30/1/2017. Investigating the real scale of rough sleeping in Gloucester, Link to iPlayer. More story's on facebook.com/insideoutwest. The Y Foundation Finland.
- 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?
- You may have read about the very worrying concerns of MIND that the £800m mental health funding announced by the government will now be used to cover NHS debt..... HSJ 'Exclusive: Full £800m NHS 'priorities' fund to offset trust deficits, it has been confirmed'. So MIND were right to be concerned. It seems that the Forum can subscribe to HSJ 'For Healthcare Leaders' as a guest to receive limited access to HSJ's award winning content, all for free...Includes up-to-date news, healthcare articles..etc...Should we as a Forum subscribe to HSJ as a 'guest'? comments please. If you look into the 'Mental Health in STP'... the Royal College of Psychiatrists interactive map, HSJ reveals:- 1. That four sustainability and transformation plan (STP) regions have failed to raise mental health spending as mandated by national leaders. 2. The best STP is investing 14.89% more in mental health as a proportion of the increase in its total budget, while the worst is investing 1.55% less. 3. Gloucestershire description. Good news. 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.
- The completion of the project to install showers and clothes washing facilities for the homeless at the new George Whitefield Centre in Great Western Road, and its official opening, took place just before Christmas. The funding came from Rotary in Gloucester and a large donation, from the efforts of Rotarian Mina, now based in Adelaide, who with her sister, Bridget, undertook a sponsored swim around the Scilly Isles.
- The latest SWEP Protocol 2016- 2017 is in 'members area'...'information' and is NOT for public viewing.
- 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 and we will be sad to see them go; we look forward to working with P3. St Mungo's self funded the last three months up to 1st Jan because the council had no budget. Read HERE.
- 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 .
Emmaus and GCM have unamonous approval and full support from the Forum at the meeting on 6th December for a pilot short term Winter Provision for rough sleepers, access will be by referrals from agency's during January and February. Service Proposal can be read here.
SWEP - The Winter Provision is also seen as a valuable free resource to the City Council when SWEP is called. Districts said they could not call SWEP when temperatures fell to a very low - 6C, so great concern and request by members to go to the press. The Forum advised against subject to a positive response at the Forums meeting on the 6th Dec with CK; see Draft Press Release in Members area. We all didn't want to see a return to deaths on Gloucesters Streets. Update: The Council agreed to have a common-sense, flexible approach as to when SWEP is called, (see Minutes), so members were recommended not to follow up the Press Release, ...response would be monitored.
Reminder : You may be aware that the Government issued the Improving Lives green paper in November. This consultation sought views on how to halve the disability employment gap. The consultation is now closed but the link to the full document, Work, Health and Disability Improving Lives, can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/work-health-and-disability-improving-lives
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.
City Council at pre consultation for possible introduction of said to be 'draconian' PSPO orders as further legislation to ban certain behaviour in the City centre; breach of any ban can lead to a criminal record; should we be criminalising vulberable people rather than tackling anti-social behaviour? Members very concerned that this will not help individuals get back into society and won't help them to get paid employment when they have a criminal record; who will employ them? perhaps the City Council? We would agree with the government who want to help everyone to be able to enjoy the independence, security and good health that being in work can bring; see Improving Lives Green Paper above. Real concern about individuals who have mental health problems. Forum looks to liaison with Council, Solace, police and 2gether. Go to page 'Council's Street Policy' to view information re PSPO's...City Council said back in November that they would kindly forward information re plan etc., we still await any information such as the Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) required before formal consultation, etc., as at 18th March 2017. It has been noted: That the Head of Public Protection has delegated authority to sign off public space protection orders (PSPO) without any recourse to our elected councillors to debate or vote on proposals.
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 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.
Drug & Alchohol Service. While Turning Point is 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, to take 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. We will be monitoring the important hand over.
- 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.
- VCS Alliance Voluntary Sector Update...see NEWS for updates.
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 HAS 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.