City of Wolverhampton Council Leader, Councillor Roger Lawrence, has presented the final report of the Wolverhampton Tackling Rough Sleeping Task Team to Full Council.

The task team was established in 2017 and includes representatives from Wolverhampton Business Improvement District (BID), Recovery Near You, Wolverhampton Drug Service User Involvement Team (SUIT), Refugee and Migration Centre (RMC), West Midlands Police, Wolverhampton Homes and the council.

The number of people sleeping rough in the country is on the increase.

In comparison with other cities, Wolverhampton still has a relatively small rough sleeper population, but there is a commitment from the council and city partners to ensuring no-one is forced to live on the streets in the city.

The primary role of the Task Team was to bring stakeholders together in a task and finish group to pilot new ways of working, with the aim of halting the rapid increase in people sleeping rough in Wolverhampton.

This has been achieved by focussing on the following priority areas:

  • strengthening partnership working and coordinating housing and health and wellbeing activity to enable targeted intervention and a person-centred approach
  • increasing existing capacity and developing specialist accommodation in conjunction with Wolverhampton Homes and the West Midlands Combined Authority
  • working in partnership with voluntary and faith groups to help co-ordinate and appropriately target support being provided to rough sleepers in the city, particularly the most vulnerable
  • promoting and developing the Alternative Giving Campaign so that it can grow from a campaign to a registered charity, thereby increasing its reach and impact
  • working in partnership to ensure enforcement activity is appropriate underpinned by a commitment to the use of enforcement measures as a positive lever for life-change as opposed to simply moving people around the city or region

Councillor Lawrence said: "I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved by working together. It is partnership working that has enabled us to develop a more accurate understanding of the local picture and use this intelligence to pilot innovative and collaborative ways of working so that more individuals can access and sustain a tenancy.

"The impact of this proactive approach is evidenced both by annual count data, our monthly outreach partnership data and many individual positive case studies.

"None the less we cannot be complacent, there is still more to be done.  I am confident, however, that the best practice and strong partnership relationships we have developed over the last 2 years will stand us in good stead going forward.

"As the Task Team concludes its activity, the fundamental changes it has ushered in will continue through the work of the Public Health led operational group, working in partnership with Housing Options, Prevention Services and Wolverhampton Homes. 

"The Homelessness Prevention Strategy 2018 to 2022 and its associated action plan, with the strategic oversight of Health & Wellbeing Together, will also enable us to work together to further strengthen activity to prevent people becoming homeless and sleeping rough. 

"I also look forward to the roll out of Housing First and our continued partnership working with the West Midlands Combined Authority."

The full Wolverhampton Tackling Rough Sleeping Task Team report and a video can be viewed online at Homelessness.