Highly regarded national charity St Mungos are funded by Reading’s Labour council to provide a key outreach service. I have said this a number of times recently, but Reading can be proud of the partnership between the council, the voluntary sector and others in helping those sleeping rough or at risk of it. I went out on the early morning shift earlier this week to see how they work for myself and to talk to them about how they feel on the front line. I am pleased that Reading is currently bucking the national trend but from what I am told I am concerned that this can only go on so long and sooner or later the increases in those on the streets we are seeing in the rest of the country will start to be reflected in Reading. There is only so much a council can do to mitigate the effects of this government.
Service is successfully helping rough sleepers in Reading
Rough sleepers in Reading are receiving both quick support to help them off the streets and longer term help to sustain them off the streets for good.
St Mungo’s outreach team works throughout the year in Reading, making contact with anyone sleeping rough and supporting them into accommodation, health services and more.
In the last year, the team has helped 185 rough sleepers into housing. Since October this year, the team has worked with 73 people, either preventing homelessness or supporting people off the street.
The average weekly headcount of people contacted since October is slightly down from five to three compared to the same period last year.
In addition, new funding has enabled the team to employ an outreach worker who is supporting those with the most complicated needs to sustain their accommodation and move on with their lives.
With the recent icy weather, the St Mungo’s team has also been redoubling efforts with the council and other local housing providers to offer emergency shelter to rough sleepers in the potentially life-threatening temperatures.
So far, 30 Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) beds have been offered to rough sleepers or people at risk of sleeping rough
St Mungo’s is urging anyone who is concerned about a rough sleeper to contact them directly on 0118 958 5002 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Helen Arnold, St Mungo’s Reading Outreach Manager, said: “At at time when nationally homelessness figures are on the rise, we are pleased to have been able to report a (34%) decrease in the numbers of rough sleepers in Reading this winter compared with the same period last year.
“People rough sleeping have often experienced trauma and distress in their lives. Our aim is to build up trusting relationships and to let people know what support is available so they can get their lives back on track. Even better news is that we have been able to increase the number being housed by 9%.”
She welcomed the strong partnership approach to homelessness and prevention of homelessness in Reading that has been enhanced by the creation of the Homeless Pathway, which enables more personalised support for homeless and vulnerable members of the community.
Helen said: “We are pleased to work closely with Reading Council and other partner organisations to offer prompt and personalised support to some of the most vulnerable people in the area.”
Notes to Editors
- For further information or images, please contact Judith Higgin on 020 8762 5645/07768 577878 or email email@example.com
- St Mungo’s has managed the outreach service in Reading since 2008 – one of more than 100 projects St Mungo’s manages across London and the South, providing emergency accommodation, support towards recovery and help to prevent rough sleeping.