Council highlights growing issue for ‘World Homeless Day’

Date: 
Friday, October 9, 2020

Rochford District Council is joining organisations from all over the world this Saturday (10th of October) to mark the annual 'World Homeless Day' to alert the district to the problems faced by those living without a permanent address.

The campaign, which is particularly poignant this year given the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, aims to draw attention to homeless people's needs locally, acknowledge, engage and support good practice and provide opportunities for the community to get involved in responding to homelessness.

With the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable people across the district, on top of the issues they already face day-to-day, World Homeless Day gives us a chance to reflect on how those less fortunate than ourselves have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rochford District Council work in partnership with CHESS Homeless, The South Essex Domestic Abuse Hub (SEDAH), The Rochford District Community Hub and Peabody who all offer a range of support services that can be accessed.

In September 2019 Essex County Council in partnership with Chelmsford, Maldon, Rochford, Epping Forest and Braintree districts launched the Essex Rough Sleeper Outreach Service, the new approach to assisting those in need and providing a street outreach service. Since its launch, the service has engaged with over 158 rough sleepers.


Rochford District Council’s Portfolio Holder for the Community, Cllr Mike Webb said: “When you think about the word ‘homeless’ you probably envision rough sleepers on the street. It’s easy to forget those who are staying in hostels, shelters or with friends and family but without a permanent address of their own are also homeless.

“With the ongoing repercussions of Covid-19 the numbers of people without a home is unfortunately likely to increase even further. There can be so many reasons for people to find themselves homeless, from a life event such as a relationship breakdown, a landlord wanting their property back, family or friends not able to accommodate any longer or becoming unemployed or leaving care with no home to go to.

“It can be very easy for people to feel far removed from the situation homeless people find themselves in, but in reality, there are so many triggers which could lead someone to that situation that any of us could end up homeless at any point in our lives.

“World Mental Health Day is also being held on Saturday 10 October which is a stark reminder of the links between the two issues.”

“If you or anyone you know in the district are sleeping rough and are worried you can get help by contacting Streetlink at www.streetlink.org.uk. This will issue a referral to the local Outreach Team at CHESS who will pay them a visit to ascertain their needs. If required they will be provided with warm clothes, a sleeping bag and some food, plus help and advice any steps that can be taken to provide a more permanent solution.

One service user in the Rochford District said: "It means so much when someone hears you and actually opens doors. I was at crisis point and you recognised that. Thank you for not treating me as a number. You have given me my dignity back."

Tricia D’Orsi, Deputy Accountable Officer for NHS Castle Point & Rochford and NHS Southend Clinical Commissioning Group said:

“Addressing mental health challenges is essential to helping many of the people we work with to get off the streets and stay off the streets. Poor mental health can be the reason some people become homeless in the first place and being on the streets can negatively impact on mental health and make the symptoms of existing mental illnesses worse.

"While the NHS cannot solve homelessness on its own, it is working hard with partner organisations to ensure rough sleepers and homeless people have easy access to services that are built and designed around their needs – putting an end to the revolving door of trauma care. Many rough sleepers and homeless people have been through incredibly traumatic experiences which can cause mental ill health or exacerbate problems, often impacting on the type of support they need. This initiative will prevent our most vulnerable people slipping through the net.”

For more information our Housing Options service offers advice and assistance in supporting homeless people at www.rochford.gov.uk/HousingOptions