How Northampton helped the homeless during first year of pandemic

'Our response has shown us that rough sleeping isn’t inevitable and that, if we all work together, we can break this vicious circle of homelessness'

Monday, 17th May 2021, 10:27 am
Updated Monday, 17th May 2021, 10:30 am
Library picture
Library picture

Nearly 200 homeless people spent at least one night in emergency housing in Northampton during the first year of the pandemic.

A new report, released by Northampton’s Single Homelessness Forum, show the response of the town to the Government's 'all-in' strategy for homeless people across the country during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Between March 27 last year and March 31 this year, a total of 198 people (162 men and 36 women) spent at least one night in emergency housing. Of these 198 people, says the forum, 77 (39%) were non-UK nationals.

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The then borough council closed its dormitory-style nightshelter and arranged emergency housing for three months in two hotels (the Travelodge and the Holiday Inn) and then for a total of eight months in one of the university’s halls of residence.

A spokesperson said: "Everyone who was placed in the emergency housing had their own bedroom and was provided with cooked meals, toiletries, fresh clothing, a laundry service and access to the drug and alcohol treatment and recovery service.

"During the 11 months that Northampton’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative was operating, 156 people (128 men and 28 women), including 59 Non-UK Nationals, were helped to move on from emergency accommodation into settled housing.

"Another 12 people moved from emergency accommodation into the HARRP. During the same year, more than 100 people (who were at imminent risk of having to sleep rough or did not want to move into emergency housing) were also helped to move into suitable, settled housing," the spokesperson said.

Work has also been going on to put plans in place for the future.

"During the past year, members of the Single Homelessness Forum have also been busy building a rapid rehousing service to ensure that, in future, anyone who is sleeping rough receives the help, support and encouragement to come off the streets and, following an assessment of their needs, is able to move on quickly and successfully into suitable, settled housing.

"This has only been possible due to the strong and effective partnership relationships between Northampton Borough Council, Northampton Hope Centre, the Northampton Association for the Accommodation of the Single Homeless (NAASH) and a wide range of other local services and organisations."

The Sue Faulkner, the Chair of the Single homelessness Forum, said: “This COVID-19 public health emergency, and our response to it, has shown us that rough sleeping isn’t inevitable and that, if we all work together, we can break this vicious circle of homelessness.

“Throughout the past year, I have found it incredibly humbling to observe the huge, positive changes that so many of the town’s entrenched rough sleepers have made to their lives and it has been inspiring to hear how determined they have been to make the most of this unique opportunity to receive the help, support and housing that they need.

“Twelve months ago, our aim was to keep people safe and prevent as many rough sleepers as possible from returning to the street. However, we have done so much more than that. “We have set up the HARRP, we have increased the number of homes available for rough sleepers, we have reduced the number of people sleeping rough, we have emptied the tent encampments and makeshift shelters on the outskirts of Northampton, and we are now recruiting a dedicated Rough Sleepers Drug and Alcohol Team.

“Although some people have continually refused our offers of help and remain on the streets, the complex reasons for this are being addressed and we will continue to point them in the direction of the help and support they require.

"Northampton’s multi-agency response to the Government’s call for ‘Everyone In’ has been extraordinary and it has resulted in huge changes to the way in which rough sleeping services are delivered.

“Now that all of the building blocks are in place, I am really excited by the prospect of continuing to reduce rough sleeping in 2021/22.”