Birmingham City Council has been award part of £400,000 as part of the Rough Sleeping Grant in order to tackle homelessness in the city.
The grant, which was awarded jointly to both Birmingham City Council and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council is set to be used to offer safe accommodation, both physical and mental health checks and substance misuse screening and support.
Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for housing and homes, Cllr Peter Griffiths, who welcomed the news, said:
”Rough sleeping is not a lifestyle choice and as with all aspects of homelessness it springs from issues that need early intervention. This programme will help people who are new to sleeping rough or who are in danger of sleeping rough through a range of targeted, specialist interventions and will support those people we have identified as being particularly vulnerable to rough sleeping. Only by working in a targeted way with partners across the city and the surrounding area can we ensure that vulnerable people get the support that they need.”
The money will be coordinated through a team of nurses, substance misuse workers and housing and support officers and will link to current outreach providers in order to reach the homeless population of the UK.
SIFA Fireside, a Birmingham-based charity that deals with homelessness welcomed the news. The charity, which was set up in 1983, provides on average over 1031 breakfasts, 2009 lunches and 429 showers every month.
The Chief Executive of the charity, Cath Gilliver spoke to Eastside about the funding, but also raised concern about council-wide budget cuts to services that support the homeless community.
“We’re pleased that the Council has been awarded this additional funding which is to improve homelessness prevention as well as to enhance outreach services to people who are sleeping on the streets. However, unfortunately it’s come at a time when the Council is also consulting on a budget, as a result of government cutbacks in other areas, which proposes a large funding reduction to its Supporting People Services (accommodation and support for vulnerable people, including homeless people).
Clearly there is a homelessness crisis in Birmingham, as in other UK cities, and much of this is due to government policies such as welfare cuts, along with a failure to invest in social housing and to regulate private landlords.”
Birmingham City Council also announced that the funding will also be used to fund two new posts that will specifically work with those who find themselves sleeping rough after being discharged from Heartlands and Solihull Hospitals and HMP Birmingham.
Whilst an unspecified amount will be given to the creation of a new assessment and triage night shelter in Birmingham.
The announcement of the Rough Sleeping Grant comes just a week after the government confirmed £1.7 million for the council’s homelessness scheme through the Homelessness Prevention Trailblazer scheme.