Agenda item

Rough Sleepers Briefing Paper


(a)       That the Committee welcomes the report and the work being undertaken with multi-agencies to meet the challenges for rough sleepers; and


(b)       That the thanks of the Committee be passed to all the Homelessness team for the work being undertaken to meet the challenges for all people presenting as homeless.


The Chief Officer (Housing and Assets) presented a report on priority actions being taken to tackle and prevent homelessness across Flintshire as set out in the Council’s Local Homelessness Action Plan which was based on the three main themes of the Regional Homelessness Strategy.  The report focussed on the ‘People’ theme and its priority of rough sleepers.


It was acknowledged that rough sleeping was no longer confined to major towns and cities as it was extending into other areas such as communities in Flintshire.  There were a number of contributing factors, often involving complex long-term issues, requiring a multi-agency response including the Drug & Alcohol team, Housing and Welfare teams.  Following the withdrawal of emergency bed provision by the service provider in Flintshire, an alternative temporary facility had been identified in Shotton to accommodate the night shelter service.  With the recruitment process underway, it was hoped that the new service would be available from January for a period of 18 months to two years until permanent accommodation could be found.


The Chief Officer spoke about the range of positive initiatives delivered through the Local Action Plan such as promotion of the Streetlink app.  The report detailed the various reasons for homelessness with a large percentage due to parents no longer willing or able to accommodate the individual.  The team had recently engaged with four individuals who were found to be sleeping rough but recognised that there were more out there including ‘sofa surfers’.  The recruitment process was underway for the Housing First service which was an effective model in engaging and provide wraparound support to rough sleepers with multiple complex needs.


In thanking officers for the comprehensive report, the Chairman welcomed the Housing First pilot and said that the Council should be commended for its approach to tackling homelessness.


Councillor Attridge thanked the officers and Cabinet Member for the report and the actions being taken by the Council.  He said it was disappointing that the Council’s strategic partner had removed the emergency bed provision at short notice and that housing associations could do more to address homelessness in Flintshire.  In response to questions, the Chief Officer spoke about developing the multi-agency approach into an effective model to help get people off the streets.  The night shelter service provider was keen to develop and train volunteers and would be working with various organisations such as Help the Homeless.  The Homeless and Advice Manager said that establishing links with volunteers, including members of the public, would provide a network of support to help those in need.


Councillor Dolphin referred to discussions on the development of the North Wales Safeguarding Board and suggested a joint meeting with the Social and Health Care Overview & Scrutiny Committee to explore the subject in more depth.


The Committee supported the Facilitator’s suggestion for an update in six months’ time to review the impact of actions and that Social and Health Care Overview & Scrutiny Committee Members be invited.  The Chief Officer said that the service worked alongside Social Services on the safeguarding process and that the update report would explore the complexities in legally establishing self-neglect.  He gave assurance that rough sleepers refusing to engage with the Council would not be written off and that the team would continue their efforts, as demonstrated by a recent long-term case in Buckley.


Whilst thanking officers for visiting Holywell Town Council, Councillor Palmer welcomed the positive actions and encouraged even more focus on those refusing to engage.


Councillor Shotton expressed concerns about the number of rough sleepers aged 18-24 who could not be accommodated by their parents.


Councillor Butler praised the Council’s response to tackling homelessness which was a serious national problem.  He thanked the Chief Officer and Manager, along with the Chief Officer (Social Services) for the time that they had spent at the shelter, outside working hours, helping people in need.


Whilst Councillor Heesom complimented the team on their work, he spoke about the need for wider investment and establishing links with partner agencies to work with individuals on activities which could make a real difference to their lives.  The officers said that the importance of early intervention had been recognised and that raising awareness of experiences leading to homelessness, particularly in schools, helped young people to understand those challenges.


In response to a query by Councillor Attridge on homelessness levels in Flintshire, the Chief Officer said that although numbers had increased, these were relatively low in comparison with other areas such as Rhyl, Liverpool and Manchester.  This was endorsed by Councillor Hughes who said that numbers were lower than Wrexham and Chester.  He said that even one rough sleeper was too many and that the Council would continue its efforts to help those in need.


Councillor Bithell said that whilst homelessness today was upsetting, it had been evident for many years.  In welcoming the various initiatives, he said it was inevitable that some individuals may choose not to accept help.


The Chairman allowed Mr. John Ennis, who was present in the public gallery, to speak.  Mr. Ennis referred to the importance of adequate funding to tackle homelessness and reduce the housing waiting list.  In response to comments on decarbonisation, the Chief Officer said that this was an area of focus by the Welsh Government to reduce energy bills and tackle fuel poverty which could lead to homelessness.


The recommendations, which were amended to reflect the debate, were moved by Councillor Palmer and seconded by Councillor Dolphin.




(a)       That the Committee welcomes the report and the work being undertaken with multi-agencies to meet the challenges for rough sleepers; and


(b)       That the thanks of the Committee be passed to all the Homelessness team for the work being undertaken to meet the challenges for all people presenting as homeless.

Supporting documents: