Author Topic: Homeless flocking to Newbury.  (Read 5598 times)

Administrator

  • Administrator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 240
    • View Profile
Homeless flocking to Newbury.
« on: December 06, 2013, 02:51:50 am »
Homeless flocking to Newbury.

A badly worded press release/statement from West Berkshire Council has put pressure on the Two Saints Hostel in Newtown Road. The original release states "...anyone who finds themselves homeless in West Berkshire will be offered an emergency bed this winter."

Apparently beds intended for local homeless are being taken up by persons from as far away as Birmingham. This has forced West Berkshire Council to make a U-turn on its policy and prompted the following press release from Councillor Dr Tony Vickers, Housing Spokesperson, Liberal Democrat Group:


Rough Winter for Newbury Homeless

West Berkshire’s promise that “anyone … who would otherwise be sleeping rough” in the district - from November to January inclusive - “will be offered an emergency bed” failed on only the second night of official winter. Street sleepers were being turned away from the ‘direct access’ hostel at Two Saints in Newtown Road Newbury on Monday night, on instructions from the Council. When rung about this, Conservative Housing chief Cllr Roger Croft told his opposite number Cllr Tony Vickers “The system was being abused”.

Since 1st November, when the so-called ‘extended SWEP’ (Severe Weather Emergency Protocol) began to operate, an average of 15 people have stayed at Two Saints’ hostel in Newtown Road, which has only 17 spaces. Several people have been turned away for lack of space or other reasons but when Mr Vickers saw senior Council housing officers last Thursday, after being made aware of this by local volunteers who work with the street homeless, he was merely told that ‘clarification’ of the intended scope of ‘extended SWEP’ would be issued ‘very soon’.
 
“The Council’s Press Release on the subject of 15th October has clearly misled people working with homeless people locally,” said Cllr Vickers. “But I never dreamed until tonight that we’d be returning to the old system of providing shelter only when the forecast is for three nights of sub-zero temperatures – for everyone. Just as charity Loose Ends was being inundated with offers of help – food, clothing, volunteers, money – the thing these vulnerable people need most is being denied them by this Council: a warm place to sleep.”

 “Six times the Press Release which Cllr Croft endorsed used the word ‘anyone’. Now it seems he meant ‘no-one’!”, said Mr Vickers. “It is cruel to punish these poorest of people for having taken his word. Nobody will believe him again.”


Warmth and safety for those sleeping rough

As temperatures start to drop, West Berkshire Council and the Two Saints hostel in Newbury are starting their Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) to ensure that anyone who finds themselves homeless in West Berkshire will be offered an emergency bed this winter.

The SWEP forms part of the Council's Homelessness Strategy which aims to prevent and reduce homelessness and is activated whenever the Met Office forecasts three nights or more with a minimum temperature of 0°C or below.

During SWEP, Two Saints coordinate extra accommodation in the communal areas of Newbury's direct access hostel for anyone, subject to risk assessment, who would otherwise be sleeping rough.
This year, building on the success of last year's SWEP provision, the West Berkshire Council Housing Service, in conjunction with Two Saints, will run an extended SWEP provision from 1 November to 31 January. SWEP will be available between these dates, regardless of temperature. Outside of these dates, the temperature trigger will be used as normal.

Roger Croft, West Berkshire's Executive Councillor for housing said: "The SWEP ensures that anyone sleeping rough is offered a warm, safe place to stay during the winter.  It also applies to those not normally eligible for services. Anyone who sleeps rough can access emergency accommodation from the beginning of November through to the end of January, regardless of the temperature. There is no need for anyone to be sleeping rough in West Berkshire during this time."

Between 1 December 2012 and 31 January 2013, thirty nine people accessed SWEP accommodation. The average stay was five nights and the longest twenty two nights, after which the individuals were able to make their own alternative arrangements.

Anyone wishing to access SWEP should contact the West Berkshire Council Housing Service on (01635) 519588 during office hours or 01344 786543 outside of office hours.

Administrator

  • Administrator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 240
    • View Profile
Re: Homeless flocking to Newbury.
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2013, 08:08:30 am »
Apparently the BBC had already picked up on this story and it would have made national television. The death of Nelson Mandela has prevented this.

However it does appear on their website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-25221349#

Old Goat

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 175
    • View Profile
Re: Homeless flocking to Newbury.
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2013, 06:07:15 pm »
Well done Councillor Vickers - your outrage is wholly justified.  Please keep the pressure on.

quiet man

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
Re: Homeless flocking to Newbury.
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2014, 08:36:52 pm »
Yet another example of West Berkshire council and their inappropriate lack of attention to detail.