The number of people rough sleeping has increased by 165% since 2010. In September 2018 the 83 local authorities with the highest numbers of rough sleepers received £30 million from the government to establish local Rough Sleeping Initiatives to help people on the streets now. These initiatives included employing expert advisors, training packages and funding for cold weather provision.
The heads of the local Rough Sleeping Initiatives in Leeds, Bradford and Kirklees, the three areas we work in, then spoke about what they are doing locally to support people sleeping rough.
Donna Harkins has headed the Kirklees Rough Sleeping Initiative team since it was established in July 2019. Their team consists of four outreach workers who cover north and south Kirklees. They have recently acquired funding for two additional workers who will be based in local hospitals, particularly A&E departments, to engage with rough sleepers.
Clare Flannigan manages the Bradford Homeless Outreach Partnerships which consists of a team of specialists, including a psychiatric nurse from Bevan Healthcare, a Housing Options Officer, a Substance Specialist and a Multiple Complex Needs Specialist, among others. Our two outreach workers in Bradford also work closely with the team. Since July 2019, the team has housed 60 people in Bradford, working with some of the most entrenched rough sleepers in the city.
The Safer Leeds Street Support Team, headed by Derek Hughes, brings together a range of professionals, including Change Grow Live, Bevan Health Care, Forward Leeds and Beacon to support those on the streets. In Leeds in the last 12 months, 250 individuals have been recorded as sleeping rough in Leeds.