Mansfield needs to improve help for the homeless

Minister for the homeless Marcus Jones joined MP Ben Bradley for the last of his four meetings with local community leaders
Minister for the homeless Marcus Jones joined MP Ben Bradley for the last of his four meetings with local community leaders

Mansfield needs to improve how it tackles the complex issue of homelessness.

That was the message from Mansfield MP Ben Bradley who met with The Government minister for homelessness Marcus Jones to discuss homelessness issues in the town.

The MP and minister met with key homeless charities, businesses and Mansfield District Council representatives yesterday. (Thursday December 7)

Mr Bradley said; “Since the summer and my election I’ve been looking into homelessness services and the particular challenges we have in Mansfield.

some of the support services are very good but there continues to be an issue with particular complex cases and entrenched homeless people which is a problem both for those individuals and the regeneration of our town centre.”

Latest figures have shown a fall in rough sleepers in the town, which peaked at 27 last year, down to 16.

The MP said: “The latest figures are accurate as to the number of people sleeping rough that particular night. It matches what I saw when I went out with Framework on a similar patrol but I do think it is a broader and more complex issue than just who is in the doorways on a particular night .

“We have to look more into the complexity of the things the needs and services most entrenched rough sleepers need, which is a more difficult challenge than just the numbers themselves.

The biggest challenges are largely people with more complex needs mental health or drug related issues.

“If you have fallen on hard times and simply need help back into housing and back into work the services we have locally are excellent.

“If you have personal issues complicated situation mental health or drug related issues that makes it much more difficult and requires a much broader cooperation of services and I don’t think we’ve quite got that right yet.

“These are the people who get more entrenched into that lifestyle and are more difficult to bring back into society.

“There are areas that the Government is directly intervening in we can look at locally and be more coordinated in the way things work and make sure that resources and people’s money are going into the most priority areas.”

Marcus Jones said the Government was putting significant resources into the problem and wanted to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and eradicated it completely by 2027.

He said “We are introducing the Homelessness Reduction Act which starts in April and we provided over £250,000 in new resources to Mansfield Council to support them in combatting homelessness; and £371,000 for Nottingham areas including Mansfield on a rough sleeper project which I understand is already having a positive effect.

“We are piloting a new way of working called Housing First which is about getting people off the streets into accommodation and wrapping ground services because the group of people we are talking about have very complex needs, such as mental health challenges, drink and drug dependency and really difficult issues to crack.

“We need to get people off the streets and keep them off the streets.

“There are huge challenges - there are lots of underlying and very complex issues quite often that keep people on the streets that’s why we have got to get more housing supply so people have a place to live - but also make sure tackle the underlying issues so we don’t have people on the streets at all.”

Earlier Mansfield mayor Kate Allsop spoke about Mansfield District Council’s efforts to tackle homelessness across the district and encouraged Marcus Jones to take steps to provide better levels of social care for some of the most vulnerable people.

Mayor Allsop said: “Based on the November 2017 snapshot, we have experienced a 45 per cent reduction in rough sleeping on the streets of Mansfield. This is down to the extensive outreach work that has been delivered with Framework to support people with complex needs.

“This is a really positive step and we want to do more to help people but we desperately need to address the gaps in social care provision alongside our homelessness prevention work.”

The 2017 snapshot report noted that 15 people were sleeping rough in Mansfield compared to 27 the previous year. Since the 2016 report, Mansfield District Council has worked with the Mansfield Homeless Network to ensure that appropriate support is given at the point of need.

The council also funded a pilot scheme to engage Framework to deliver outreach on the streets of Mansfield. This is now delivered across Nottinghamshire and supported financially by the Police and Crime Commissioner. The outreach work focuses on working with entrenched rough sleepers and unravelling complex situations, including antisocial behaviour, to better assist people into settled accommodation.

Mansfield District Council delivers a Homelessness Prevention service that goes above and beyond statutory duty. The team supported 858 people this year figures show a 30% increase in prevention support work.

“According to the National Audit Office, the Homelessness Reduction Act could bring a 36per cent increase in prevention cases, so we can only anticipate a rise in support working. We are making changes to our services to accommodate this requirement” said the Executive Mayor.