Rough sleeping

If you are concerned about someone sleeping rough, please visit www.streetlink.org.uk to refer them to the Council's outreach team.

There has been a  rise in rough sleepers nationally and locally. The Council does not want to see anyone sleeping rough, which is why it works with partners and commissions St Mungo's to provide a street outreach team to support rough sleepers into treatment and accommodation all year round.  In freezing temperatures a severe weather action plan becomes active and emergency beds in hostels or B& B's are offered alongside extra support and advice.

Individuals rough sleeping often have complex and multiple needs.  Whilst the Council and other organisations provide a range of services, offers of accommodation are not always taken up, but the Council will nevertheless continue with this approach. 

There is no single reason why people end up sleeping rough. It could be for a variety of reasons including such as rising house prices, high rents in the private rented sector, changes to Local Housing Allowance and the Government's welfare reform, including income benefit sanctions.

Compared to other local authority areas, Reading has substantial voluntary sector provision and support for rough sleepers, with significant levels of funding from the local authority, even at a time of severe budget pressures.

How we Help Rough Sleepers in Reading

In comparison to many other local authority areas, Reading has substantial voluntary sector provision and support for rough sleepers, with significant levels of funding from the local authority.

Reading Borough Council works with partners to provide support and accommodation to homeless people all year round, and this work is even more vital in the winter when temperatures fall.

We commission St Mungo's to provide a street outreach team to support rough sleepers into treatment and accommodation throughout the year.  We  also commission a number of services to support and accommodate local single homeless people, including the provision of more than 200 supported accommodation beds, and a floating support service, operated by homeless charity Launchpad Reading, which supports vulnerable people who need help to retain their tenancy or with resettlement.

Whilst the council makes these services available all year round, people can be more likely to accept help during the winter months.  Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP) has operated in Reading for many years and is activated whenever the Met Office forecasts three nights or more with a minimum temperature of 0°C or below.

SWEP is provided by St Mungo's, Launchpad Reading, social housing provider Riverside and the Salvation Army, working in partnership to ensure that anyone at risk of sleeping rough during severe weather is offered emergency accommodation.  During this time, extra support and advice is also available with the aim that people do not have to return to rough sleeping.

The 'Bed for the Night' (B4N) night shelter run by a consortium of local churches is also operating in the borough every night until the end of February - this offers a total 18 bed spaces for those who are verified as homeless and that have a local connection to the borough.

Individuals rough sleeping often have complex and multiple needs.  Whilst the Council and other organisations provide a range of services, individuals may choose or be unable to engage with these and it can time to build relationships and trust.

Rough sleepers from other boroughs can also be attracted into Reading for a variety of reasons - including because Reading has substantial provision and support available including. St Mungo's actively seeks to reconnect rough sleepers with their borough of origin.

In addition to the above, under the 'Narrowing the Gap' grant funding programme priority of 'Meeting Basic Needs' the Council also funds the partnership between Christian Community Action, the Churches in Reading Drop In Centre (CIRDIC), Readifood/FAITH and Reading Refugee Support Group. Collectively the partnership provide a range of services and support including a food bank; drop-in for homeless individuals; furniture/new home start-up packs; and other practical help to people in crisis who cannot afford to meet their basic needs. Those who are homeless are referred as appropriate to specialist services for support and health care.

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