Rough sleeping in Worthing and Adur falls by over 35% since last winter

Turning Tides is not alone in tackling the homelessness crisis in Adur and Worthing and a multi-agency effort appears to be making a difference.

Wednesday, 15th January 2020, 4:55 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th January 2020, 4:58 pm

The number of people sleeping rough in Adur and Worthing this winter has fallen from 23 in 2018 to 15 this November, according to figures from Adur and Worthing councils.

Thirteen of those were on Worthing’s streets, with two sleeping rough in Adur.

Turning Tides’ chief executive, John Holmstrom, said he welcomed news of the decrease but warned against complacency.

April Baker, homelessness services manager at Turning Tides, with chief executive John Holmstrom

“This is a major achievement of all agencies and the town working as a whole – together,” he said.

“However, this is not a time to become complacent or think the underlying pressures have gone away. We constantly need to remind ourselves that just one person sleeping out is one too many.

“Around 90 per cent who sleep rough are local to Worthing. They often have a history of severe trauma that leads to mental health and addiction challenges.

“Just because someone has somewhere to sleep does not switch off this trauma. But it does provide a stable base to begin a journey to independence of a life unravelled by trauma.

“Rough sleeping is not an inevitability. It is, above all, a consequence of the shortage in suitable housing and support.

“We, alongside our colleagues in the council and all agencies touched by rough sleeping, are working tirelessly to put in place and sustain provision, in the hopes that next year we will see a further fall in numbers.

“The new year brings an appetite for the hard work and resolve to achieve this. We must always remember that the solution requires the efforts of the whole town. It is a community responsibility at heart.”

The decrease in people sleeping rough follows a combined effort between the councils and a group of organisations that form the Worthing Rough Sleepers team to get people off the streets this winter.

Early this winter the councils initiated severe weather emergency protocols, releasing funding for Turning Tides to provide extra overnight accommodation.

The councils’ outreach teams, supported by Worthing Tabernacle, also provided a drop-in centre from 7am to 9am to provide respite from when the shelters closed until day services opened.

In Worthing this winter there are 24 night shelter places, provided by Worthing winter night shelter faith groups, with an additional shelter delivered by Turning Tides that is funded by central government.

Further supported accommodation is also provided by Turning Tides, Southdown Independent Living Scheme, the YMCA, Sanctuary and Homegroup.

The councils’ Rough Sleepers Team includes representatives from the police, health and social services and local charities, who meet weekly to discuss individual cases and tackle underlying issues.

Such a range of groups among the community allows a holistic approach to supporting individual rough sleepers, providing care for specific needs and targeting particularly vulnerable individuals.

The councils said residents and businesses can also do their bit to help.

Using the app Streetlink, members of the public can report rough sleepers to the local authority. A member of the councils’ outreach team can then contact the person sleeping rough and deliver the help they need.

The public are also advised to buy people on the streets food and hot drinks, rather than give them money, and to report any anti-social behaviour to the police.

Councillor Heather Mercer paid tribute to the Rough Sleepers Team. She said: “The excellent work done by our team and with our partners in the Rough Sleepers team has really paid off.

“Their understanding of the need to deal with all aspects of a person’s life to help them through a difficult period is what makes the difference.”