Innovative Partnership Aims to End Rough Sleeping on City’s Streets

An ambitious and committed partnership of agencies has been launched to put an end to rough sleeping on the streets of Newcastle.

The new and innovative partnership entitled Street Zero brings together key partners who are collectively developing a city-wide strategy to deliver compassionate solutions to prevent homelessness occurring in the first place and to end rough sleeping for good.

The partnership brings together organisations from four distinctive sectors – public, business, charities and community organisations – a collaboration that the Street Zero Partnership Board recognises as essential as the complex challenges that lead to rough sleeping can’t be managed by a single agency or service alone.

The Board’s newly developed “joined up” approach revolves around three key steps: prevention, responding and transforming. Prevention looks at how to stop people having to sleep rough in the first place while responding is about working together to provide personalised support to people sleeping rough via assertive outreach, offering a route off the streets as quickly as possible.  The final element is about transformation; changing the city’s accommodation and support services that people are offered a housing led package of integrated and tailored support.

Bob Eldridge, MBE from Newcastle Homeless Commission is the Street Zero Chair. Previously chair of the trustees with The People’s Kitchen, he has more than 35 years’ experience working with vulnerable people, many with complex mental health issues and personal challenges.

“People who are rough sleeping are in that situation because of complex personal challenges, not just because of a lack of accommodation,” he said. “Rough sleeping is not inevitable and by working better together to help address the individual’s physical and mental health problems we can prevent people from sleeping rough in the first place.

“Newcastle is a city that cares. Every day, I see examples of the compassion shown by residents and people who live and work in the city, the businesses that take their corporate social responsibility seriously, and the many public and third sector organisations who are already working in partnership towards ending homelessness.”

Street Zero aims to build on this compassion and utilises already established agencies to further develop practical actions to alleviate disadvantage and suffering so that no one needs to sleep rough.

The situation doesn’t have an overnight solution, but by working in partnership and implementing new strategies it is anticipated that the lives of many vulnerable people will change for the better over the next four years.

A new emergency fund has been set up to help people who are rough sleeping or at risk of rough sleeping, by showing kindness and paying for things they need to help them to move away from a life on the streets.

“The well-established system of services we have in Newcastle is very effective in solving rough sleeping and the best way for anyone to help is to support and contribute to the system through the Street Zero Emergency Fund rather than individually giving to people on the streets,” said Mr Eldridge.

“Street Zero donations are channelled to local nominated services and charities working directly with people sleeping on the streets who are then able to purchase items and services on behalf of the people most in need.”

Leader of Newcastle City Council Nick Forbes said;

“Our city is coming together to end homelessness, because we know we all have a part to play in that aim.

“Whether that’s the council or the voluntary sector, or just people passing by and wanting to help.

“We know that at this time of year it’s more important than ever that we renew those efforts and make sure no one feels the need to sleep rough.

“The Sleep Zero fund is a great way for people from all backgrounds to help out, and I know Newcastle will get right behind it.”

Further support has been given by The Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Christine Hardman who is the partnership’s Patron.

“The values of Street Zero, honouring the human dignity of every person, are values I share and I am proud to be your Patron. With determination and a desire for coordinated action, I believe Street Zero stands a real chance of ending homelessness in our City. This will be my hope and prayer for the work that is now to begin in earnest.”

Anyone who sees someone sleeping rough can let the Council know by e-mailing [email protected] or by calling 0191 278 3899 where action will be taken to offer help and assistance.

More information at www.streetzero.org