Safeguarding Action on Homelessness
8 February 2021
In Nottinghamshire, as has happened nationally, homelessness has come under the radar. As such, NSAB and its partners are working hard to develop our knowledge and expertise in this area in relation to safeguarding adults. We are not starting entirely from scratch however, with a wealth of current expertise from dedicated organisations and lived experience of adults available.
- We have detailed a briefing paper below from Jenni French, a Commissioning Manager from Nottinghamshire County Council regarding the Everyone In campaign.
- We would also like to bring to your attention to some online webinars provided by the Local Government Association (LGA), further details of which are below.
Once the webinars have taken place, NSAB will be using any recommendations to develop an action plan to support learning, development, and positive action for those adults with care and support needs experiencing homelessness in Nottinghamshire.
Everyone in Campaign
At the start of the Covid Pandemic in March 2020 the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) instigated the Everyone in Campaign. This required local authorities with a housing duty to provide rough sleepers with temporary accommodation enabling them to get off the streets and ‘Stay Put’, reducing the impact of the pandemic on already vulnerable people. This not only included the known rough sleepers but also those people identified who presented as homeless, and people with ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ who normally would not be supported under the housing legislation.
In Nottinghamshire this work involved all the seven district and borough councils along with the city council as well as Nottinghamshire County Council Public Health team as they have a preventative responsibility for homelessness.
The Local Authorities used a whole range of different accommodation, some authorities had their own housing stock and were able to free up some self-contained units, other authorities booked space in hotels or local B&Bs or went for serviced apartments. The majority of immediately-available accommodation was in the city area.
The rough sleepers were given accommodation and initially supported with food parcels to ensure that basic humanitarian needs were met. It was quickly recognised that to ensure these cohorts did ‘stay put’ that additional support needed to be provided and the County’s CGL (Change Grow Live) team along with colleagues from the City Council developed a range of different processes to help those with drug and alcohol dependencies still get their prescriptions and their alcohol delivered a part of the food parcels. LAs continued to support with food parcels and also supported getting people fridges and microwaves so that they could cook in their rooms.
An initiative through Public Health and the NHS provided data to the different authorities to make sure that those rough sleepers who should have been shielding or in a very high-risk category were identified and were supported to ‘stay put’. The CCGs also used this data to make sure that those supported who weren’t registered with a GP were signed up and so could be given the necessary medial help when needed.
Over 300 rough sleepers were supported initially across the city and county. The majority by the end of the first lockdown had be provided with more permanent forms of accommodation.
During lockdown a lot of activity in regard to housing was halted. This meant that people couldn’t move even if they wanted to and so the whole housing system slowed. The ‘everyone in campaign’ prioritised housing as there was a need to move people out of the temporary hotel room into a more permanent form of accommodation. However, in some situations this has used up the available supply of housing creating blockages for other people needing housing
Even with all the help that was offered during this initiative there are and will always be some for whom rough sleeping has become a way of life; who continue to choose to be out on the streets and who will need supporting. Currently on average there are around 40 people in the city and 30 people in the county who are on the streets.
- LA needed to make sure the temporary accommodation was appropriate for the different groups housed. Early on it was identified that there could be conflict between different groups of people if placed in accommodation being utilised by multiple authorities, so an agreement was reached that where multiple authorities had secured spaces, they would communicate prior to placing to make sure that there was an element of compatibility between the different cohorts.
- Each district and borough provided different housing solutions and different humanitarian aid. There was limited consensus of what should be provided in different situations. This meant that some people got continual food parcels whilst others only had them initially.
- Data management improved with the right agreements being in place to allow information to be shared. This helped to identify vulnerabilities and to help allocate the right support.
- There is an even greater need for suitable and affordable accommodation across the county that allows people to be housed and supported to maintain a tenancy. Where people have achieved this, they have changed their lives but there is insufficient accommodation of this type for all the different cohorts that needed it.
Won’t ‘Stay Put’…
Early on it was identified that there were a number of rough sleepers and socially vulnerable people who refused to ‘stay put’ and comply with the Government guidance. A process was developed that helped workers and other agencies know what to do if someone refused to comply.
As these individuals got more complex this process had to be developed further to include enforcement options. The Government’s Covid legislation did give Public Health England powers to issue a Section 21 but all this would do was to continue to return an individual back to the accommodation that they had been offered. Using Environmental Health legislation (more commonly used for TB or typhoid outbreaks) a protocol was developed that could be used where an individual was refusing to comply. The process is now in place and has been agreed by all authorities, the police, and has endorsement from PHE as being an approach for a very small majority. This work was a breakthrough in collaborative working and getting an agreed approach adopted by all.
Early on it was identified that authorities were aware of all the information that was available about individuals. Housing Officers make decisions on individuals which are closely aligned with social care responsibilities. Many individuals would not have been deemed eligible for social care funding support, however adult social care still has a vital role to fulfil, working together with the housing authority to support individuals.
As the City Council is unitary this was less of a problem, but in the County as the initial data-sharing showed, many of the vulnerable rough sleepers were also known to Adult Social Care currently or at had been at some point, some were receiving help already but hadn’t shared this with a housing authority, and others needed help. The County Council’s Housing Team offered to provide a triaging service to district and borough councils. The housing authority would place someone and send details through to the County Council, who would check their systems, and depending on what was known or what a housing officer needed to know conversations were had. This process helped a number of individuals, and supported colleagues across the county to work with some very complex cases and keep people alive who otherwise may have not been if agencies and authorities had not worked collaboratively together.
- Training for Housing staff on Housing and the Care Act and the role of Social Care. This is being offered to all district and borough councils early in the new year.
- Use the housing sub-group to further strengthen and develop the collaborative working that has been achieved through ‘Everyone In’ even when the pandemic is over.
LGA Adult Safeguarding and Homelessness: 8 virtual Seminars
In 2019/2020 four national workshops were organised on adult safeguarding and homelessness through the Care and Health Improvement Programme (CHIP). The outcome was a published briefing on adult safeguarding and homelessness, published by the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Social Services. A further series of 8 virtual seminars has been developed to take this work forward, and to inform a further briefing on adult safeguarding and homelessness, including the impact of Covid-19.
Dates and topics for the other workshops:
- 15 February 2021 - Legal Literacy in safeguarding people experiencing homelessness. Confirmed speakers: Laura Pritchard-Jones and Henry St Clair Miller
- 23 February 2021 - Governance of Adult Safeguarding and Homelessness. Confirmed speakers include Jane Cook and Michael Preston-Shoot
- 1 March 2021 - Tackling Specific Issues: safeguarding people experiencing homelessness. Confirmed speakers include Mike Ward (alcohol abuse), Barney Wells (mental capacity) and Kate Spreadbury (multi-agency collaboration).
- 8 March 2021 - Making Every Adult Matter and Every Contact Count – Reviewing Learning about Positive Practice in safeguarding people experiencing homelessness. Confirmed speakers include Adi Cooper, Michael Preston-Shoot and experts by experience.
All seminars take place between 10am and 12 noon except those on 23 February and 8 March, which will be held between 2pm and 4pm.
To register, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org