Welcome to the Faith & VCS Homeless & Vulnerable Forum web site for Gloucester and the wider area. Web Site Statistics:
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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.
What to do? Where to get help? Councils Homeless Infograpth is helpful for services and contact information.
Streetlink individuals...Download the app | www.streetlink.org.uk | 0300 500 0914. Referred to P3 Street Outreach Team.
City Council Housing Options Team for Homeless individuals, ring 01452 396538 for a homeless duty appointment.
The new SSTS Hubs are staffed 24/7, however P3 have asked that we please contact the hubs on the numbers as follows before we send anyone, as they have to ensure the safety of everyone within the hubs and an appropriate and safe time may have to be arranged for any new referrals. For Gloucester T: 01452 767077, T: 01242 335733 for Cheltenham. (We are asked by the CHC that if there are problems in getting and accessing homeless individuals, into the SSTS please contact Jeremy Pugh, Service Manager, in the first instance. If you are not satisfied follow P3's complaint process. Only then contact Kathy, CHC or Kath, Lead Commisioner).
Citizens Advice (CAB) office in St Michaels Square..Messenger House has drop-in days/times, you would need to get there at say 9am for 9:30am opening, first come first served, very busy, now open Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays due to budget cuts......phone 01452 527202. Debt counselling as well but need to call and arrange appointment, big waiting list. http://gloscab.org.uk/gloucester/
Signpost Cards. Go to GCM web site to download, link https://www.gloscitymission.org.uk/need-help
If all else fails and all the homeless services cant help - direct individuals to Richard Graham's MP's Office, he has excellent case workers who can help. If you are homeless, destitute, been sanctioned, benefit cuts, PIP, vulnerable, unsafe housing ......he has a hot line with DWP and CAB. Need to ring for an appointment 01452 501167. His Gloucester Office is at St Peters House, 2 College street, Gloucester GL1 2NE
If this was your wardrobe and your bed? .....address nfa Gloucester.
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.”
Thought for the Day: 'If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?'...1John3:17
Quote: 'We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other'.
Thought: Mental Health Social Care covers a wide area and the fact that mental ill health is recognised as being closely correlated with homelessness being both a cause and consequence of the loss of accommodation.
Crisis Uk: We all deserve a safe, stable place to live. But we’re not protecting this basic human need for 236,000 people across Great Britain. We know homelessness can be ended. But we can’t do it alone. Join our 'Everybody In' campaign and stand against homelessness.
'I was sitting here contemplating suicide because I've had a pretty rough couple of weeks and this song popped upon my feed. This song has officially changed my life'. To view the official video by King&Country, entitled 'God Only Knows', click on link HERE to go to Forum web page H&W. We challenge you not to be moved by this video......Need HELP?, go to our 'Useful Links' page find Sunfloowers suicide support or 'Helpful Info & Guidance'...extract as follows...Emergency Help in Crisis. If you are worried about your own, or someone else's suicidal thoughts or feelings, take the following action! For a life threatening situation call 999. If you are in Gloucestershire, call 2Gether Trust on 0800 073 2200 to discuss an appointment or Crisis Team on: 0800 1690398. Contact 'Suicide Crisis Charity' on 07975 974455. Mental Health Charity MIND runs a helpline 0300123 3393 or 86463 tx; Make an URGENT appointment with your GP or if Homeless, with the HHT at the George Whitefield Centre.....read more HERE re 2getherTrust working together with Gloucester City Mission. Call the Samaritans on 116 123.
On behalf of the Forum we would like to apologise to all our 'readers' for lack of recent up to date NEWS, updates etc., normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.
- Update on Greensquare Drop-In Closure for Housing Support & Sofa Surfers, as at 19th Aug: Before August 2019, Greensquare had an important drop-in at the City Council Reception. We were advised by the Council to sign post individuals there, critical when individuals were not able to phone or didnt have mobiles. At present Gloucester does not have any drop-ins, but Greensquare are currently looking for a new venue but have no time frames. For more information, please call their Helpdesk on: 01452 726 951
- URGENT PLEASE SIGN & CIRCULATE: From George Clarke. A week ago my programme George Clarke’s Council House Scandal aired on Channel 4, a programme I’ve wanted to make for many years. The show highlights the housing crisis and why this country desperately needs to build more Council housing at scale and at quality. Since then over 135,000 people have joined my campaign calling on the Government to build 100,000 new Council houses a year for the next 30 years. I’m overwhelmed by all the public support so far - but now we need to keep the momentum up. Will you sign my petition so we can ensure that everyone has a place to call home in the years to come? click on link.... UK Parliament: Commit to building 100,000 new council houses every year for 30 years.
- Message from CRISIS: When some people are struggling, it has an impact on our whole society. And right now, people who need support are being forced into homelessness. We’ve put together a short animation to explain how, by investing in housing benefit, we can prevent people from losing their homes. Will you add your voice to our #CovertheCost campaign, and send a message to the UK Government that housing benefit must cover the cost of rent across England, Scotland and Wales? Count me in
- Needle exchange pharmacies in Gloucester
- SWEP. SWEP applies all year when Met Office weather warnings are in place; yellow, a.mber or red....see SWEP protocol. For Met Office weather warnings read HERE. Our CHC has kindly confirmed SWEP has been called for Friday 9th and Saturday 10th, both YELLOW warnings. The Outreach and Housing Options teams have been made aware.
- Shelter. Read their open letter to PM Boris Johnson. Across the country, almost 280,000 people are homeless. With Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister and a massive shake up in Westminster, our work is now more important than ever. We must continue to make sure that beating homelessness stays at the top of the national agenda. Shelter have written to the new Prime Minister, laying out what he must do to pull us out of this housing emergency. At the top of this list is that the government must scrap no fault evictions and build many more social homes
The City Council reception has now moved ..'......into the heart of the city. We opened on the 31st July at 'The Gateway', 92-96 Westgate Street (next to Janes Pantry) to make it easier for you to access our services'. Find out more. Move from a 'drop-in' to an 'appointment' system, see news below. Please note that the Greensquare drop-in is now closed in Gloucester. We have not heard of any alternative, Greensquare were said to be looking at a drop-in at CGL.
- Be aware: We are aware of several individuals who have had heroin overdoses in last few days down to a strong batch we believe, apparently one in critical condition. We have asked who has the lead?, is there a protocol? re communications....should it be CGL?
Good News: Tenancy Rescue and Homelessness Prevention Initiatives PDF 139 KB Gloucester City Councillors approved at its cabinet meeting on the 12th June a scheme to help prevent homelessness. Read more HERE. (will open at the relevant cabinet document, scroll down to find the said item.) Q: How can we connect individuals with this welcomed rescue intiative when individuals are threatened with or being evicted, does it cover sofa surfers??
- The centuries-old Vagrancy Act, which makes rough sleeping and begging illegal in England and Wales, should be scrapped because it is needlessly pushing vulnerable people further from help, according to a new report from homelessness charity Crisis. The calls come as the Government today announces its review of the Act as part of its rough sleeping strategy. The Act was included, apparently at the last minute, by the City Council in its Safe & Attractive Streets Policy without the Forum being made aware. LIBERTY ask us to take action, read HERE to contact your MP.
- Be aware: An individual we were advocating for, who had been rough sleeping for months in the railway underpass etc.,.. we had just got him, together with help of P3, into the SSTS Hub. He had given his life to Christ and was on the up. He was then found, passed away, with an overdose of heroin, high strength, which we believe was administered to him/ injected... without his consent by an unknown third party, he had been clean for a number of years. This is the word on the street but we have no evidence of this. June 19.
- If all else fails and all the homeless services cant help - direct individuals to Richard Graham's MP's Office, he has excellent case workers who can help. If you are destitute, been sanctioned, benefit cuts, PIP, vulnerable, unsafe housing ......he has a hot line with DWP and CAB. Need to ring for an appointment 01452 501167. His Gloucester Office is at St Peters House, 2 College street, Gloucester GL1 2NE.... and/or give the individual a tent and sleeping bag and then streetlink the individual where they are sleeping rough/bedded down but also give them the phone number for the Emergency Duty Team (EDT).. (you on their behalf or the individual, can ring EDT after 5pm for emergency accomodation, be aware the individual needs to be able to get there, can they walk? are they well enough? do they have bus fare? do buses run if late? EDT will do a short referral, see Homeless Infograph below for contact number)
- StreetLink has been found to be critical in getting someone into the SSTS Hub, whereby rough sleepers can be verified where they are bedded down by the Councils P3 Outreach Team. Streetlink offers the public a means to act when they see someone sleeping rough, and is the ﬁrst step someone can take to ensure rough sleepers are connected to the local services and support available to them. Download the app | www.streetlink.org.uk | 0300 500 0914. The hubs are best utilised for those who are rough sleeping currently, not already on the 'Pathway', and need specialist support.
- Update on City Council move. Due to the City Council reception move to Westgate, there will be appointment only for the Housing Option Team. Homeless individuals can ring 01452 396538 for a homeless duty appointment. We are told that the appointment system will not mean that people have to wait to see the Housing Options team if they are roofless that night. There will be roofless appointments on the same day (as per statutory law and recommended by the HRA).
The appointment system is specifically designed to give customers a better/more efficient service; it will stop people having to wait hours in reception to see the next available officer. Instead they can book an appointment for a specific time that day. This has been designed with the most complex and chaotic individuals in mind, as often they are unable to wait for long periods due to their specific support needs.
It also means that the most vulnerable and at risk individuals will be seen first; people who are not in immediate need having appointments booked in a few days time, rather than taking up time on day that is needed for those who are roofless.
Green-Square will still be providing housing related support and have a variety of drop-ins throughout the county. Housing Officers can refer directly to Green-Square during an appointment or give details of their drop-ins depending on the individuals need and capability.
- Updated Information Sharing consent form, click HERE. When advocating for someone please make sure that only the necessary people have sight of the personal information. Initially please refer to/contact, relevant services/ agency(s) for support. We have found the homeless services to be very helpfulI and would recommend working together. If the referral is refused or work undertaken is believed to be incorrect refer to the services/ agencies complaints procedure. Only contact the CHC when there are seriuos concerns about how an organisation is working. The Councils Homeless Infograpth is helpful for services and contact information..... (Note: the phone number for the city council housing options team is not helpful, you will wait for ages, ring 01452 396538). It has been recommended that we call the services/agencys, while with the individual if possible. This way you can get an immediate response and advice with the client present (particularly if they are not sure about the advice and support they have been given). The 'Pathway' can be confusing at times and the authorities are aware of the need to try and make the support on offer as clear as possible.
- Due to the City Council receptions move to Westgate Street, end of July, there will no longer be a Greensquare drop-in service; Greensquare have the remit for housing related support including homeless sofa-surfers. DO NOT signpost individuals to the Greensquare Council drop-in from end July. Greensquare are looking for other locations and we have asked the CHC for location of other drop-ins in Gloucester. We have been advised to contact Greensquare by phone, when with the person needing help.
- End of Private rented tenancy remains the largest cause for loss of accommodation. As a result of this knowledge the districts have their own landlord incentive schemes in order to assist individuals on UC to secure private rented accommodation. NB: this can only be monitored if the individual attends a housing options appointment and informs the housing officer of the reason they lost their last accommodation.
- There is a recognised severe lack of suitable good quality accomodation, social and council housing, in Gloucester particularly for those who fall on hard times and loose their accomodation, private tenancy's for those on housing benefit and emergency accomodation, utilising poor B&B hotel accomodation, unsupported... (Read poor housing concerns of Healthwatch Report especially for vulnerable women). The City Council recognise this and and negotiations are underway for 45-50 units of temporary accommodation. Read notes of City Council Meeting on 21st March. We do not need poor government policy re 'permitted development rights' of industrial units, not requiring planning approval, we need secure stable accomodation.
- Improve quality of rough sleeping figures says UK statistics chief. Gloucestershires rough sleeping numbers this year was via an 'actual' count as opposed to the usual 'estimate'. Gloucesters data was less than previuos years but recognised as just a snap shot one weekday evening. There has been some disagreement on the validity of the 'count' when it is recognised by some that this was not an accurate figure, not reflecting actual number of rough sleepers. The MHCLG methodology has always been that local areas decide the approach to use to assess the extent of rough sleeping in their local area to provide the most accurate figure, we believe an 'estimated' count helped to do this; MHCLG approach refers. It also seems to be recognised that the numbers of rough sleepers will increase over weekends when sofa-surfers are kicked out; the Forum has always had concerns on the high number of sofa-surfers, the hidden homeless. 'Actual' counts have now been questioned as not reflecting the actual numbers.....reported accusations that some councils, NOT Gloucestershire, have deliberately underreported the scale of the crisis in their area after receiving government funding. Read article https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/mar/26/improve-quality-of-rough-sleeping-figures-says-uk-statistics-chief. Sir David Norgroves letter... https://www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/correspondence/response-on-rough-sleeping-statistics-in-england/. MHCLG response... https://www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/correspondence/mhclg-response-letters-rough-sleeping/
Citizens Advice. CAB is always good to go and see first to get advice, benefits that can be claimed, situation, form filling, etc. Link to CAB below re office in St Michaels Square..Messenger House has drop-in days/times, you would need to get there at say 9am for 9:30am opening, first come first served, very busy, now open Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays due to budget cuts......phone 01452 527202. Debt counselling as well but need to call and arrange appointment, big waiting list.
Gloucester City Council ranks eight nationally as one of worst-hit in the UK for Government spending cuts since 2009; worst in the south. Total spending cuts of 23.4%. Read more HERE from GloucestershireLive. CentreforCities 'Cities Outlook 2019 Report'.. for data open Report HERE. Change in total spending: 1. Barnsley - 40.4 per cent 2. Liverpool - 31.8 per cent 3. Doncaster - 30.6 per cent 4. Wakefield - 30.1 per cent 5. Blackburn - 26.7 per cent 6. Newcastle - 26.6 per cent 7. Stoke - 24 per cent 8. Gloucester - 23.4 per cent!! Will our MP challenge this especially if northern cities get an EU Brexit dividend... Why has Oxford had a +14.7% increase? The County Council has to make nearly £21million in savings/cuts next year..
- Treasure Seekers July Newsletter: Read HERE
- GCM July 2019 Newsletter: Read HERE. 'On page 4 are details of this year's Survive the Night which we hope is going to be our biggest and best event ever. Please have a read and encourage as many people as possible to sign up'.
- Great News: Tenant Fees Bill. Thank you to all who supported the campaign by Shelter. Almost 3 years after the ban on letting fees was first announced in Autumn 2016, the government finally approved the Bill, which will ban letting agents and landlords charging ridiculous letting fees. Mark 1st June 2019 in your calendars when the Bill becomes operational. Read more at Shelter Blog HERE
Somewhere Safe to Stay: £5m for new network of rough sleeping hubs. Hubs are backed by up to £4.8m in government funding. Gloucestershire to be one of the first Somewhere Safe to Stay hubs to be launched:What is the SSTS Hub. The County Council and Cllr Roger Wilson, cabinet member for adult social care commissioning, described the proposed SSTS Hub as follows…... see following link to Council’s News Releases… https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/gloucestershire-county-council-news/news-march-2019/homeless-hubs-to-be-up-and-running-before-the-winter-s-out/See the helpful video by Matt.
Read more HERE. Comment: while the Forum has not been consulted, we recognise that this is really good news and positive funding. At present, we do not know anything about who will manage, control, focus, outcomes or who is liasing/coordinating with the Faith and VCS, charities...etc., we look forward to being involved. The PSE reported that:'James Brokenshire has announced the creation of a new network of rough sleeping hubs, with £5m committed to the scheme to help provide thousands of vulnerable people with specialist support to recover from life on the streets.Eleven rough sleeping hubs across England, called the ‘Somewhere Safe to Stay hubs,’ will be up and running by spring 2019 and form part of the government’s rough sleeping strategy.They will provide immediate shelter and rapid assessment for those who are, or are at risk of, sleeping rough, and provide specialist support to address those with complex needs such as substance abuse or mental health issues.The communities secretary commented: “No one should ever have to face a night on the streets, and as a government we are taking steps to ensure people are never faced with this as their only option.“These are vulnerable people, who may be dealing with complex mental health problems or addictions and require specialist help to tackle these issues and turn their lives around.“That’s why these vital new hubs will ensure those on the streets have access to professional help and guidance to start their recovery.”
Link to Gov.Uk Press Release https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-100-million-plan-to-end-rough-sleeping-by-2027. The Rough Sleeping Strategy https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-rough-sleeping-strategy.
The Forum is aware of alot of hard work being undertaken by the Council following long term major concerns about unsafe, unsupported, emergency accomodation utilsed by the authorities, commisioned services.....etc., as confirmed by Healthwatch (see report at bottom of page)....lack of 'crash pads' while rough sleepers can be referred..You may recall that we have called for a NSNO Day Centre with crash pads for say three nights for individuals, being somewhere safe, humanitarian facilities, toilets, washing, healthcare, etc.. while services can engage...we had been rebuffed so are really keen to hear progress. Think it is fair to say that the jury is still out on the operation of our SSTS Hub following some apparent concerns and issues re restricting access, but time will tell, still early days, we are still very positive, some good outcomes. Will we be asked to contribute to feedback to central government?
- Independence Trust - Please find attached the latest A-Z Prospectus and registration form for the period 21st January – 12 April 2019.
- Gloucester Forwards Employment Outreach Service Poster.
- Gloucestershire Suicide Prevention Partnership Newsletter
- Your latest updates from the National Suicide Prevention Alliance, click HERE.
- Funding Boost for County Homelessness Support Services, read more HERE. The Forum subitted a written statement to central government supporting the succesful original SiB bid by our CHC to help secure £990,000 additional funding for 3 years. The countywide partnership of local authorities, led by Gloucester City Council, has secured a boost to support an extra 16 vulnerable individuals with complex needs through the ‘social impact bond’ project, ACTion Glos, delivered by P3
- Homeless or At Risk? click HERE for link to Council new web site for helpful info. about homelessness, rough sleepers, how to apply for Social Housing, etc.
- Outdoor Church has become Gloucestershire Sanctuary Fellowship for Bible / study / visits....Tuesday Lunchtime, light refreshments.... meet at the Guru Cafe at 12 for a 12:30 start. For further info 07874751543 or 07840125176.
- Launch of HaVinG: The Rt Revd Bishop Rachel Treweek and Richard Graham MP, Patrons of 'HaVinG A voice in Gloucester', officially openend the charity on Friday 5th Oct. 2018. Sustain & Enable...Create change not loose change....A hand up not a hand out. Donations to the new local charity will go towards helping the homeless in Gloucester....looking at contactless giving...Latest: HaVinG – A Voice in Gloucester has now been formally recognised and registered by the Charity Commission Registration Number: 1181040. The registered address is: 11A Cheltenham Road, Gloucester, GL2 0JE. The HaVinG website is currently under construction – when completed all details will be available on events and, more importantly, how we will be looking to make grants in the future. Our first event will be the Cloister Challenge on Friday 22 March – the web site will open in January: www.cloisterchallenge.co.uk.
NHS 70 Awards: We are thrilled to see that the Homeless Health Team (HHT) have been recognised again for their Exemplary Service to the homeless. Award presented by Paul Roberts, joint CEO of Glos Care Services NHS Trust and 2gether NHS Foundation Trust.....'A hidden gem...makes a difference to people every day..provides a safe haven...access to high quality health care...without judgement or discrimination.....' as reported in the Citizen. The Forum has always fully supported the HHT especially when there was an apparent worrying lack of commitement from the local authorities. The Forum followed up concerns re the future of the HHT with the CCG and Gloucestershire Care Services. We were really pleased with their joint committment and full support of the HHT. Link to HHT web page and full notes of our meeting are in the members area in 'Other Minutes'.
- Instagram star Alice Liveing shares her experience of domestic abuse, go to Forum's Domestic Violence page HERE to view video.
Report on the Winter Shelter Project 2018....link to report HERE. You will recall that, 'overall, the winter period of 2018 was exceptionally cold, with repeated spells of severe weather'. During the opening period, the Shelter received 134 referrals....average of 44 referrals a month. e.g. 49% of referrals came from P3 and 5% from the City Council.
Healthwatch Gloucestershire Report - Report on access to health and social care services by marginalised and vulnerable people in Gloucester. A very important report raising major concerns about emergency accommodation. 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. The new contract let by the County Council has seen a major cut in the Healthwatch budget. Subsequently Healthwatch have been unable to follow up their recommendations in the, what is known as a HW legacy report.
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