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Opinion: Helping Homeless People in Guildford

Published on: 9 Jan, 2019
Updated on: 11 Jan, 2019

This is the fourth article in the “second round” of a series of opinion pieces from the political parties and the Independent councillors who currently form Guildford Borough Council (GBC) in the period running up to the next borough council elections in May 2019. All previous articles in the series can be found here.

We are grateful to all the participants for agreeing to take part. Our aim is to allow our readers to hear from local politicians directly and become better informed of the political choice they have…

By Bob Hughes

Chairman of the Guildford Conservative Association

We have all seen the increased number of homeless people on Guildford streets and in our countryside. Behind every person we see on the streets there is a complex story, but no simple answers. So what is the council doing?

Bob Hughes

In Guildford, this is not a party political issue, but as a Conservative, my primary concern is to know what our council is doing to help? I should make clear that the actions they are taking are within a consensus amongst the three national parties represented on the council. When we work together for our town we should say so.

What the council is doing

Guildford Borough Council provides help and services which recognises that some face problems way beyond not having a roof over their head. The help available starts with an assertive outreach and support service. It includes service during the day, a night shelter, a hostel and supported housing projects combined with the provision of move-on accommodation.

Some rough sleepers say they have not been offered any help, but the council outreach team usually responds to reports of rough sleepers within 24 working hours.

However, not everyone wishes to take up the offer of help. When this is the case the Outreach Team (HOST) tries to keep communication open. But for the people who have been on the streets for a long time, who is helping them?

The Council Outreach Team will have seen them too and will have offered support. Some people refuse help and there are many reasons why someone may reject assistance and choose to remain on the streets but HOST and the other agencies in Guildford keep on trying.

What happens when we experience severe weather?

There is a Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP) for rough sleepers triggered by a combination of freezing temperatures, strong wind and heavy rain.

When this weather kicks in, local providers work in partnership to make sure adequate additional accommodation is available. HOST co-ordinates effort by gathering intelligence and responding to reports of rough sleepers, tracking down each person, offering emergency accommodation and arranging placements.

Rough sleepers by Guildford Station

What about the people begging on the street?

In reality, people begging in Guildford town centre may not be homeless or even live in Guildford. People beg for a variety of reasons including alcohol and substance addictions. Consequently, it is generally advised that we should avoid giving money to beggars. Donating money or volunteering is different and there are local charities and housing associations which exist to help.

These include: the Number Five Nightshelter, the Homeless Outreach and Support Team and Guildford Action Day Service.

The council encourages people to report any concerns they may have about rough sleepers and there are two ways of doing so. You can e-mail the Homeless Outreach and Support Team (HOST) team at GuildfordHost@riverside.org.uk or phone 01483 302495. Alternatively, you can call Streetlink, the national rough sleeper line on 0300 500 0914 or e-mail streetlink.org.uk.

 

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test One Response to Opinion: Helping Homeless People in Guildford

  1. John Hawthorne Reply

    January 9, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    It is sort of a party political issue.

    Univeral Credit creates more homeless because if you give money direct to the tenant instead of the landlord a percentage of the tenants will spend the money on something else. This is also true for tenants that have debts on their bank accounts, the money will go to debtors first before it goes to rent.

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