With the clocks due to go back one hour this weekend, Cherwell District Council is reminding people of the services available to help the homeless during the colder winter months.
The council works in partnership with organisations across the district to offer advice and support to people who are rough sleeping or at risk of homelessness.
In order to help engage with individuals who are at risk, the council is asking members of the public to be vigilant to those in need of support.
Cllr John Donaldson, Cherwell’s lead member for housing, said: “We are approaching the time of year when weather conditions are worsening; it’s getting colder, darker and wetter which makes it even harder for those at risk of homelessness. “There are very few cases of rough sleeping in Cherwell but even just one case is one too many and we want to make sure people are aware of the support that’s available to them.”
Cherwell has produced the Homeless Pocket Guide summarising the advice, support and services available to rough sleepers and people at risk of homelessness. This includes details of the Streetlink service where people can report concerns about a suspected rough sleeper. A text giving number has also been launched by the Beacon Centre in Banbury to provide a way for people wishing to donate money to support people rough sleeping within the district.
In addition to Thames Valley Police, Cherwell works with voluntary organisations including Banbury and District Housing Coalition and the Salvation Army in Bicester, who both provide drop in centres for people who are homeless or unsuitably housed
Cllr Donaldson said: “We are here to help anyone who needs it, however the hardest part is often getting that message out to people and quashing the myths about being homeless. With the public’s help we can work together with our partners to keep people off the streets and on the path to a better future.”
Common misconceptions about rough sleeping include the misunderstanding that those who have No Fixed Abode cannot claim any benefits. In fact several allowances are available to those who qualify and people can claim using a friend or relative’s address for correspondence. Alternatively most job centres will allow people to use their address if agreed in advance.
Cherwell funds the Connection Outreach Service to verify rough sleepers in the district. Connection will make the necessary assessments and referrals to help people access the Single Homeless Pathway. In Oxford there are purpose-built hostel and medical services available to single homeless people, who may often have complex needs. This is complemented with some additional units within the Cherwell District for those assessed to have less complex needs.
To make a donation using the text number text NOXF11 (space) £(amount) to 70070. For example, to text £10 text NOXF11 £10 to 70070. Alternatively anyone with concerns about a rough sleeper can report them online at www.streetlink.org.uk or call 0300 5000914.
To support a charity or outreach group contact Cherwell’s housing team for details on 01295 227004.