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Covid-secure winter beds for rough sleepers

Published Thursday, 19 November 2020

The official number of rough sleepers in York has fallen to three and Covid-secure emergency winter beds are available to help people off the streets.

Arrangements are in place to ensure the welfare of rough sleepers this winter, including beds available in addition to the regular emergency accommodation. In line with guidelines to minimise the transmission of the virus, this accommodation is to support even more people off the streets, rather than sleeping rough and vulnerable to even more danger in the coldest months.

York goes above and beyond the national ‘severe weather scheme’ by making these beds available whether or not it’s freezing. We also accept rough sleepers’ dogs in a number of our hostels in York, and have done so since 2000.

Officers from the Salvation Army and the council are constantly working with people on the streets to bring them into the accommodation they need. Some of the winter beds offered are at council hostels where partner agencies and volunteer groups give extra support including providing food or clothing over the winter months.

In all emergency accommodation, people are offered help to address any issues which may have led them to becoming homeless. This includes referral to services for mental health or substance misuse, as well as training for work and how to manage a lasting tenancy. Once that stage is successfully underway, people are offered accommodation with less support before, hopefully, they move into private or affordable fully-independent homes.

Councillor Denise Craghill, Executive Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods, said:

Even though we’re currently in lockdown, we and our partners continue to offer anyone sleeping rough covid-secure help to get off the street and into safer, more stable lifestyles. The £433k we secured from the Government’s Rough Sleepers Initiative earlier this year is being used to provide extra support for people with mental health and substance misuse issues.

“With our valued partners The Salvation Army, Changing Lives, Peasholme Charity, Restore, YES Below Zero, Carecent and KEY, help is routinely offered to rough sleepers on the early morning walks undertaken several times a week, when everyone is offered a bed.

“Council officers and our partners go out in the late evening or early morning to find people who may be rough sleeping. If you see someone sleeping outdoors, please call StreetLink on 0300 5000 914. Their national team will notify us of any rough sleepers in York so we can offer them help.”

Rough Sleeper services are operating as usual: for a bed, please go to 63 Lawrence Street before midday or call 01904 416562.

Anyone who sees a person sleeping rough can ring Streetlink on 0300 500 0194 which will alert us to visit the location and offer support. Many other ways to help people off the streets can be found at www.york.gov.uk/roughsleeping