Fenland District Council continues to do everything it can to assist and support rough sleepers and those who are, or who are at risk of becoming homeless.
FDC has a statutory responsibility for combatting homelessness.
Since the COVID-19 emergency started, we have prevented 158 households from becoming homeless in Fenland.
Rough sleeping is a nationwide issue, but great steps have been made within Fenland to address this problem.
Councils around the country, Fenland included, have prioritised rough sleepers and those at risk of becoming rough sleepers, as rough sleeping is seen as leaving people exceptionally vulnerable to COVID-19.
We have been able to help rough sleepers by providing free food, mobile phones and accommodation and support to 57 individuals (including our night shelter clients when the night shelter was forced to close because of national COVID-19 guidance).
There are now 28 former rough sleepers accommodated in bed and breakfast accommodation, with the rest rehoused.
They have been accommodated and given support by the FDC outreach team and, where possible, some have been moved rapidly into more long-term accommodation.
Those with more complex issues have necessarily taken longer to help with permanent solutions to their problems.
We have piloted a new "housing first" model which some of our entrenched rough sleepers have taken part in. This has been a great success and they are now off the street and making great personal progress.
As part of the Government financing arrangements to combat homelessness and rough sleeping, we will only fund Registered Charities or Community Interest Companies or similarly formally registered bodies which meet recognised safeguarding standards, which includes having appropriate clear DBS safeguarding checks in place. Funding is not guaranteed for any local organisation that sets itself up on a more casual basis.
FDC as a local authority must use the funds it has available efficiently, effectively and transparently. This must include compliance with necessary safeguarding provision when dealing with individuals who can be very vulnerable.
We are aware of some suggestions that rough sleeper numbers are rising due to evictions.
Courts are not carrying out evictions at the moment, so it is imperative that if someone is evicted, or in danger of being evicted, they get in touch with us.
Such an eviction would, currently, be likely to be an illegal eviction and we will be able to assist and take action.
It has also been suggested that rough sleepers are currently being left in the cold.
We currently have the "Severe Weather Emergency Provision" (SWEP) programme in place which means during extreme weather conditions (when overnight temperature is forecast to be 1C or below), rough sleepers are taken in immediately.
If you or someone you know is at risk of homelessness or sleeping rough, please contact Fenland District Council as soon as possible on 01354 654321.
More information is available on our website at: https://www.fenland.gov.uk/homelessness