Released on 17 June 2020 Press Release
At the start of the coronavirus lockdown, the Government made clear to local authorities that it wanted all rough sleepers to be provided with emergency accommodation. This was to ensure that vulnerable members of the community would be able to self-isolate and protect themselves from coronavirus.
Stratford-on-Avon District Council, along with its partner agencies including P3 and CGL, worked quickly to offer all known rough sleepers accommodation. Of the six known rough sleepers at that time, all accepted the offer, except two. Support services have continued to engage with these two individuals and are satisfied they are both well.
At lockdown, the Council was already providing emergency accommodation to a number of other former rough sleepers. In view of the unprecedented situation, the Council took the decision to also fund and provide meals to those being accommodated in guest houses and hotels in Stratford town.
In line with government expectations, the Council will continue to accommodate those who had been rough sleeping and to assist them into settled housing.
Cllr Jo Barker, People Portfolio says: "Our housing team and partners have been working extremely hard to protect homeless people from coronavirus. I'd like to thank them for their effort and commitment.
"During this time, we've offered accommodation to everyone known to us on the streets as well as providing them with all their meals. Officers have also been working with all the individuals to ensure they have their welfare benefits in place.
"With lockdown being gradually lifted, the support being provided is being reviewed. The accommodation will remain in place but additional meals will no longer be provided. However individuals will have access to mini-fridges and microwaves to help with the change as well as the additional welfare benefit support provided by the government.
"It's important that if people are to move into settled housing they need to be empowered to establish good habits and routines which will help them take responsibility to manage their own budget and welfare. The help and continued support provided by our officers, along with our partner agencies, will enable this smooth transition."
Since lockdown, begging activity around Stratford town centre declined. However, with the measures the Council has put in place to support rough sleepers with accommodation, access to benefits and kitchen essentials to enable food preparation, there is no legitimate reason for anyone in Stratford to be begging on the streets. If residents do see anyone begging, they are unlikely to be homeless.
Residents are also reminded that if they do wish to make a difference for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, they can donate via the Meaningful Change website.
Meaningful Change provides an easy way for residents to support local charities working with homeless people in our town so they get the right help and can avoid returning to the streets or falling into the criminal justice system. It also explains the support that is available to tackle homelessness and how they can help through the donation of time, money or items.
For more information, including a full list of charities and statutory support agencies involved in Stratford-upon-Avon, visit Meaningful Change: www.meaningfulchange.org.uk/
Stratford-on-Avon District Council
Elizabeth House, Church Street,
Tel: 01789 267575