WEST MIDLANDS councils including Solihull have pledged to get rough sleepers off the streets this winter.
The plan is to help rather than force people off the streets, members of the West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) Homelessness Taskforce say.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “As winter draws in, it is vital we make the right preparations to help rough sleepers get the support they need.
“Local authorities in the West Midlands have come together with charities and businesses to agree this Winter Plan for Rough Sleepers, with its commitments to severe weather provision, Housing First, Change into Action and other support.
“There are many dedicated people who work incredibly hard for local authorities and charities throughout the year to help vulnerable people.
“Over the next few months we will all need to work even harder to support them.”
Rough sleeper outreach teams in Coventry, Solihull, Birmingham, Walsall and Wolverhampton will work to rapidly respond to locate people known to be sleeping rough and support them to access a place of safety.
Importantly, the aspiration is that everyone who is sleeping rough in the WMCA area will be able to access severe weather provision.
This includes people whose needs are complex, pet owners, couples, those who have no access to public funds, people who may have previously been banned from support services and those with no local connection.
In addition, a co-ordinated regional response will be working towards trying to get individuals in the appropriate services to keep them off the streets for good.
Work has already begun to match the first people with homes for the regional Housing First pilot, which has secured £9.6million from government and is being led by Birmingham City Council.
This is a project to support entrenched rough sleepers with the most complex needs to access accommodation, alongside intensive support to help them recover from issues such as mental ill health or substance abuse.
Solihull Council’s cabinet member for environment and housing, councillor Tony Dicicco, said: “We have in place outreach support to help anyone found sleeping rough and we would also encourage everyone to use the Streetlink app to highlight any cases of rough sleeping which the public may be aware of.
“Those rough sleepers who do not wish to receive help at a particular time will be monitored on a regular basis, provided with support whilst on the streets and reminded of what is available should they change their minds.”