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.”

Todays Bible verse: Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life. Psalm 142:4.

Quote: 'We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other'.

Latest News 

    • Disabilty News 22nd Jan 2018: More than 160,000 people with mental health problems could receive back payments from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) after the Government admitted people may have missed out on benefits. The DWP said it would not appeal a High Court ruling last month that found changes to the disability benefit system “blatantly discriminated” against people with mental health problems.
    • Online Bullying: 'It’s like putting the school bully in a child’s pocket'. A mobile phone app called Sarahah lets bullies send abusive messages anonymously. And it’s already spreading like wildfire across our schools - countless children's lives are being made miserable right now. The dangerous app has hit the headlines this week after one mother spoke out about how bullies were using the app to target her child suffering from cancer.
    • City Council criticised for demonising rough sleepers in new posters..read article in Guardian HERE. On request, a Position Paper is being drafted for members.
    • Great News. GCM/Emmaus Winter Provision. Councils 'fears' unfounded. Four people helped to get a more permanaent place to stay including supported accomodation. Dave Kinghorn, Manager of GCM said in Citizen article, January 11th 2018, 'We want to work with people to find better alternatives than living on the streets or in winter shelters'.
    • Council PSPO Order. Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) are broad powers which allow councils to criminalise particular, non-criminal, activities taking place within a specified area. The Council have said that space based orders, such as PSPO's, will not be used to ban the homeless/ rough sleepers. Please find the link, http://www.gloucester.gov.uk/council/more/Pages/current-consultations.aspx, to the Gloucester City Councils consultation re the above. The consultation questionnaire will be live from the 8th January until the 2nd April. There is a survey on there which people can respond to as individuals or on behalf of a group / organisation. The Forum have produced a Q&A (helpful link about the new City Protection Officers that the Forum weren't made aware by the Council) that hopefully helps to clarify members concerns that the homeless could be criminalised; now includes GCC response.

    • Government Gambling Changes Consultation. Richard has asked for support to reduce betting stakes on Fixed Odds Betting terminals, at present £100 down to £2, by completing the Consultation following a government Review. Anyone who wants to see the stake reduced to £2 (the lowest of three options offered) should reply by the 23rd January via https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/3XGGFP7

    • Trusts Plan Joint Future. Ingrid Barker will take up position of Joint Chair from Jan 2018 for the 2getherTrust and GlosCareServices NHS Trust with a view to formally joining the two organisations from October.
    • Landladys Concerns over Welfare of Hotel Guests...read article HERE from Gloucester Review Dec 22nd 2017. Used by Gloucester City Homeless Team and service providers to place homeless individuals who need high support.
    • Another Guest House death after warning...eighth fatality of 2017...read article HERE from Gloucester Review page 6 Friday Jan 5th 2018. Said to be inappropriate use by Gloucester City Homeless Team and others to place homeless individuals who need high support...tragicaly Lynn says there isn't any support and blames the budget cuts....Where is the support? ..Is this an improvement on GEAR's old night shelter?? many say obviuosly NOT. Question:...Has no one in the City acted on Healthwatch's recommedations?? 1. That a review be undertaken of the pathways for marginalised and vulnerable people needing mental health support. 2. That communication between organisations engaging with marginalised and vulnerable people is improved. 3. That a review be undertaken of the support for those people with a high level of need or learning disabilities. 4. That a minimum standard of housing for vulnerable people be agreed, with an adequate level of emergency housing available. 5. That a wider review be undertaken of the needs of marginalised and vulnerable people across Gloucestershire. 
    • Open Your Eyes Gloucester City ...One Size doesn't fit all...read about disturbing gaps in support HEREThis blog site, OYE Gloucester, is about homelessness in Gloucester and the issues surrounding it is well worth a read, click HERE for Home page. We would agree that there is a real need for better care and training in the supported housing system in Gloucester as flagged up by Healthwatch.
    • Welcomed News. The Winter Provision for rough sleepers will be opening tonight, Friday 5th Dec, at the George Whitefield Centre on Great Western Road, every night until the end of March. Dave Kinghorn says 'thank you to all who have supported, advised and worked on this project. Special thanks as always to Emmaus Gloucestershire, their support is valued and appreciated. If you see somoene rough sleeping point them our way!'
    • Government in Court Again. In February, the Government introduced regulations that limited the amount of support that people who struggle to make journeys because of psychological distress, could get through PIP. Today the High Court has ruled that these changes are unlawful because they unjustifiably discriminate against people with mental health problems.

    • For the important role of Day Centre Hubs within the NSNO standard read HERE

    • Urgent Legal Action for our NHS. NHA suports JR4NHSJR4NHS say...Fund our fight to get proper consultation, parliamentary scrutiny and respect for the law. Save our NHS from an American-style take-over. Support the Legal Campaign HERE. Thank you to everybody who has helped to get us this far. Please continue to do what you can to share the link - https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/jr4nhs-round2/ ....Jeremy Hunt and NHS England propose allowing private companies to take control of our health and care services. This goes against fundamental NHS principles. Fund our fight to get proper consultation, parliamentary scrutiny and respect for the law. Save our NHS from an American-style take-over.
    • Christmas Day 2017, 128,000 children in Britain woke up homeless.
    • Stop Planned changes to funding for womens refuges, sign the petition. New government funding plans threaten to dismantle our life-saving national network of refuges and put the lives of women and children trying to escape domestic abuse at risk. A Women’s Aid survey of refuge services showed that the proposed new model of funding could force over half of refuges responding to close or reduce their provision - resulting in 4000 more women and children turned away from the lifesaving services they desperately need. Already there are not enough refuge spaces to meet demand; data from Women’s Aid shows that 60% of total referrals to refuges were declined in 2016/17. When on average two women a week are killed by a partner or ex partner across England and Wales the stakes could not be higher.
    • Homeless Link Day Centres Project latest NEWS.
    • The Big Issue's Christmas single delivers an important message - Phil Ryan...Walking down this Lonely Street.
    • Great News: 13th Dec 2017. We applaud Gloucester City Council for approving the planning application by Emmaus/GCM for a Winter Provision for the homeless. Thanks to all who prayed for success of the application. The Forum gave their unanimous support and approval as minuted back at the Forums meeting of the 6th Dec 2016, agenda item 4.2. For access to the Councils planning portal click HERE for letters of support and one objection from the City Council. Link to City Council web page with response, click HERE. We hear what the City Council say in their objection and note their concerns, we would like to talk with the Council about their 'fears', how informed are these 'fears'. Also concerns that the City Council appears to have a certain lack of awareness of the bigger picture....We would agree with Cllr Kathy Williams, cabinet member for long term care at Gloucestershire County Council, said: "We’re aware that the current services aren’t reaching everyone and that we need to do more to help those who have been rough sleeping or homeless for a long time'. The Forum would support Cllr Colin Organ, cabinet member for housing and planning at Gloucester City Council, in that we all need to work together. The Forum shall be looking to arrange a meeting with the City Council to follow up the above.
    • SWEP was called on Friday 8th December. Michelle Wheatley, team leader of Homelessness team, is calling SWEP for Gloucester this year. Cheltenham called SWEP on the 30th Nov because it met the criterion of 3 nights of zero or below, according to Met Office website. It didn’t in Gloucester or other districts.
    • SWEP Protocol 2017-2018 is now available, you need to register as a member to view, click HERE. 
    • Kingfisher Treasure Seekers Nov 2017 News, read HERE. '8427 visits to our mental health drop in during 2017 so far'.
    • Good News: The Autumn Budget included £20 million for Help To Rent projects to support homeless people, vulnerable tenants and their landlords. There was also £28 million to pilot a new approach solving rough sleeping known as Housing First and confirmation of their manifesto commitment to launch a Homelessness Reduction Taskforce
    • ACTion Gloucester posterFrom October 2017 ACTion Glos will provide intensive support to 110 entrenched rough sleepers and repeat users of homeless services across Gloucestershire. Present providers are unable to work with long-term roughsleepers in a long-term, innovative way, to help stop the 'revolving door' syndrome.
    • What is Social Prescribing? link to Self Care Forum HERE.
    • YourCirclea directory to help you find your way around health and care and connect with people, places and activities in Gloucestershire.
    • CGL launch new impact report...read HERE.
    • MHFA England News Letter December 2017....read HERE.
    • Independence Trust - Please find attached the latest A-Z Prospectus and registration form for the period 22 January – 13 April 2018.
    • Professor Green: Living in Poverty on BBC iPlayer or YouTube click HEREHow can this be happening to children like 10 year old Kelly Loiuse? doesn't anyone in government care anymore? It has been said that their 2017 slogan...'Building a Country that Works for Everyone' is just another soundbite...means nothing...In the UK, one of the richest countries in the world, 1 in 4 children live in poverty, another 1 million in next 5 years.
    • UC. Governments said to be, 'flawed role out' of Universal Credit sends rent arrears soaring. Gloucester City Homes, which has more than 4,000 rented properties, said 85% of its universal credit claimants were in arrears compared to 20% of all other tenants....nationally 84% on UC are in rent arrears.

      Figures obtained by the Observer under the Freedom of Information Act also show that half of all council tenants across 105 local authorities who receive the housing element of universal credit – which replaces housing benefit – are at least a month behind on their rent, with 30% two months behind. By contrast, less than 10% of council tenants on housing benefit are a month behind on their rent, with under 5% running more than two months behind, Read article here.....Dame Louise Casey,  a former government official who conducted a year-long study for ministers into community cohesion, likened pressing ahead with the universal credit rollout to “jumping over a cliff”, 24Housing article read here.

    • Ending Rough Sleeping: the role of supported housing. New government funding proposals for supported housing put the country’s primary route out of rough sleeping, at risk. Read St Mungo's report here.

    • Streetlink are experiencing issues with reporting rough sleepers, so some referrals are getting through others not. They are aware of the issues. So that P3 are aware of the potential referrals being made continue to refer through streetlink but also send a copy of the referral through to P3 directly at glos.outreach@p3charity.org you will receive this once a referral is completed. If you are unable to make the referral P3 need the following details: 

      Location details

      Location: View map

      Nearest building number (if known):

      Street name (if known):

      Town / city or postcode:

      Location description

      If you have seen this person more than once, how regularly are they in this location and at what times of day?: 


       

      Rough sleeper details

      Rough sleeper 1

      Name:

      Gender:

      Age:

      Ethnicity:

      Appearance:

      Are there any particular issues we should be aware of?:


      Referrer details

      Referrer name:

      Referrer email:

      Referrer phone number:

       

      In what capacity are you making this referral?: Housing/Homelessness professional

      If "other", please specify below:

      Notes:

       

    • National Audit Office Major Output on Homelessness, read reports, press release, etc here. 'Homelessness has increased across all measures since 2010, with many local authorities now seeing it as a risk to their financial sustainability'. “Homelessness in all its forms has significantly increased in recent years, driven by several factors. Despite this, government has not evaluated the impact of its reforms on this issue, and there remain gaps in its approach. It is difficult to understand why the Department persisted with its light touch approach in the face of such a visibly growing problem. Its recent performance in reducing homelessness therefore cannot be considered value for money”. Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, 13 September 2017.
    • The Hidden Homelessness crisis...read article here.
    • DisabledGo News. A benefits assessor who was caught on film mocking disabled claimants of personal independence payments and suggesting they were liars has been found guilty of misconduct by a professional standards tribunal....read more.
    • App offers suicide prevention help and support to people in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. Read about 'The Stay Alive' app here, link to 2gether NHS Trust web site.
    • Stroud Rotary has a Community Awards scheme open to support organisations within the Stroud area with a small grant which will make a real difference.  Closing date 30 September.  Find out more at http://www.rotary-ribi.org/clubs/page.php?PgID=656033&ClubID=624.
    • Gloucestershire’s Annual Public Health Report (includes info on mental health) – link here
    • The government has agreed to “reflect” on its failure to engage with disabled people and their organisations, after facing public criticism from a UN committee of disabled human rights experts...read here.
    • Take a look at CGL's refreshed web site, July 2017.
    • Governments benefit cap on lone parents of under two's is unlawful, high court rules and has resulted in 'real damage'....'real misery to no good purpose' Read more go to DWP page.

    • Disability News Service - Read how... '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 inhumane treatment by the DWP.
    • Rent Receipts…Concerns on reported failure of landlords to issue Rent Receipts, for accomodation utilised by the City Councils Homeless Team. Reports of individuals being evicted for alledged non-payment of rent and then have their duty ceased by the City Councils Homeless Team who are then said to 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 by landlord's 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, to be investigated together with the City Council, as an urgent priority. 
    • Report reveals scale of food bank use in the UK...30th May 2017.

      food bank

      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.

    • Good News. 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.
    • Rogue Landlords - Guilty landlord fined...read more here from Gloucester City Council, March 2017. May 2016, Overview & Scrutiny go on the offensive to combat unlicensed and poor H&S conditions in HMO's in Gloucester...read more here.
    • 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.  Member are pleased to hear that 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... will our Healthwatch be weaker run by Healthwatch Wiltshire?...will there be cuts in provision for residents?...alot of questions but our aim must be to again build a close working relationship with the new HWG team, so we ask for your patience while we open dialogue with HWG. We will keep you updated when we have any news.
    • 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.
    • Good 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.

      Next stop the House of Lords. Crisis Briefing. Read HERE. House of Commons Library. Update: Progress of the Bill, third reading 23rd March 2017. Emmaus have produced a helpful statement.

    • 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. 

      Cllr Kathy Williams, cabinet member for long term care at Gloucestershire County Council, said: "We’re aware that the current services aren’t reaching everyone and that we need to do more to help those who have been rough sleeping or homeless for a long time. "This new personalised approach will help us specifically support these people whilst also focusing on breaking the cycle of repeat homelessness. "Supporting the homeless and rough sleepers in Gloucestershire is a responsibility that both the county council and district councils take very seriously. Our commitment to work together and this additional funding will mean we can really make a difference.”

       

    • 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.
    • A reported worrying increase in evictions from County Council run supported housing (ABS). There is a 6 week period where those evicted are not allowed back, so where do they go? onto the streets to sleep rough, where else. Please refer them to Streetlink, who inform the Outreach Team now P3, who go out to find them on the streets, and then back into START,....... there must be a better way... very inefficient use of scarce resources. 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. Worryingly, there was found to be a lack of coordination and notification between services when a person is evicted. Being followed up. Report of one person being evicted onto the streets because he was seen with a knife,..... he was self harming. Lived in a tent down Westgate, a very chaotic young man with mental health problems. He survived because he had a hope that one day he would get to see his children.

    • IMPORTANT: Healthwatch Gloucestershire ReportReport 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. 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 TwitterFounder 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 2016, 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 2017, 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.  The County Council have been in touch and it was good to hear that the assessment will commence in the autumn of 2017and that the Forum will be a key stakeholder, a toolkit is being developed.
    • 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
    • The Policy Research Unit. The contribution of faith organisations to the voluntary sector in local communities. Read the PRU Document here.

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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.