Gratitude Day: 31st March 2018

Saturday is Gratitude Day. Our favourite!

A huge and heartfelt thank you to the following people for supporting us with such kindness this week.

❤️When a community works together, nobody needs to be cold, isolated or hungry❤️

Elizabeth Richardson, Tracey Collins, Cathy Staniforth, Carly Kirven, Jamie Grey, Kaley Souza, Emma Staniforth, Hilda Green, Andrea Ferris, Nexa Properties, Kirsty Jones, Nadine Hodge, Anna Lamb, Sharron Ponsford and Mitchell, Fiona Solomon, 3 Cocktail Bar, Joan Fillingham, Rachel and Rosie, Jamie from Harbour Vets, Jodie Newell, Kath O’sullivan, Trudi Victoria Cocks

❤️❤️❤️and our most heartfelt gratitude to…….the lovely local vet who would prefer to remain anonymous but helped a homeless man and his dog with incredible kindness, patience and compassion.

 

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He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother: 5th April 2018

HE AIN’T HEAVY, HE’S MY BROTHER

On the street it’s every man for himself, right?

Well, no. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Gruff kindness and quiet comradeship between the homeless men and women is something we often observe.

We thought we would share some of the things we’ve witnessed in a series of weekly posts. Here’s the third…..

….when one of the guys finally got his benefits sorted out, he wanted to treat his street friends. Not with booze and cigarettes: with a donation to us of orange juice, bananas, bacon and milk…

Small moments, easily missed but proving that life can take literally everything from you – except your humanity.

*some names changed for safeguarding

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He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother: 29th March 2018

HE AIN’T HEAVY, HE’S MY BROTHER

On the street it’s every man for himself, right?

Well, no. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Gruff kindness and quiet comradeship between the homeless men and women is something we often observe.

We thought we would share some of the things we’ve witnessed in a series of weekly posts. Here’s the second…..

….many of the street sleepers working together, as a team and without fuss, to keep an eye on one of the dogs whose owner is vulnerable at the moment. They know he needs his dog and they do their best to help….

Small moments, easily missed but proving that life can take literally everything from you – except your humanity…

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He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother: 21st March 2018

On the street it’s every man for himself, right?

Well, no. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Gruff kindness and quiet comradeship between the homeless men and women is something we often observe.

We thought we would share with you some of the street kindness that we’ve witnessed in a series of weekly posts. Here’s the first…

…the day Gary gently eased off Dave’s shoes to check his feet then, shocked and upset at their condition, half carried him to the bus to go to hospital….

Small moments, easily missed, which prove that life can take literally everything from you – except your humanity.

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*names may be changed for safeguarding

Homelessness Reduction Act 2017

On 3rd April 2018, the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 is enstated into UK Law. But what does it all mean? 

Background

Homelessness in the UK is on the increase with figures showing 4,751 people sleeping rough in autumn 2017, an increase of 15% from 2016.

Bob Blackman MP began the private member’s bill, now formerly known as the Homelessness Reduction BillHomelessness Reduction Act, in 2016 with the aim of ensuring more support and preventative measures are taken to reduce homelessness in the UK. The private members bill was supported and worked on by a group of MPs, including former Portsmouth South MP, Flick Drummond.

 

Since the bill’s beginning in 2016 and after many consultations and hearings at the committee, House of Commons and House of Lords, the bill finally became an Act of Law in 2017 with it coming into force in 2018.

 

So, what does it all mean?

The Homelessness Reduction Act has changed the way Local Authorities now deal with people who are homeless and are at risk of becoming homeless.

Risk of becoming homeless – the period deemed to evaluate someone’s risk of becoming homeless was a mere 28 days, baring in mind housing options services only operate Monday – Friday in most Local Authorities, this meant risk had to be assessed and advice is given accordingly within 20 working days at most.

This has now been extended to 56 days, allowing local authorities more time to assess, advice and implement prevention measures to reduce somebody’s risk of becoming homeless.

Duty to provide advisory services – Local Authorities are now required to provide free, informative services to everyone within their respective area. Portsmouth, for example, this would be everyone living on Portsea Island and those living in Cosham, Farlington, Drayton and Portchester.

The information needed to be provided includes advice on preventing homelessness, securing accommodation if homeless, the rights of people who are homeless or threatened by homelessness as well as any help that is available to someone who is at risk of or is registered homeless as well as how to access that help.

This advice service should be designed to reach out to groups of people thought to be more at risk of homelessness, such as people leaving prison; care leavers; people who have left the Defence Services (Army, Royal Marines, RAF, Navy); domestic abuse victims; people suffering from mental health illnesses.

New Duties – in the past Local Authorities have assessed people and given help based on ‘priority need’ (see figure 1) with those having priority need having accommodation secured for them. The non-priority need is only, usually, given advice and assistance to find accommodation.

However, the new law obliges Local Authorities to provide more meaningful assistance to those who are homeless and threatened with homelessness regardless of if they are a priority or not. The priority need will still stand as the procedure.

Agree on a plan – the new framework means that needs assessments have to be carried out to ensure a suitable and sensible plan meets the need of the individual person. Elements of the assessment include why the person became homeless and what support they need in their home if any.

This plan will ensure that accommodation can be secured and retained by the person according to their needs.

Prevention – This has been mentioned previously in this article but the prevention period has increased to 56 days from 28. The Local Authority then must take reasonable steps to prevent the person from becoming homeless.

Failure to comply – Some people who find themselves homeless find it hard to interact and ‘jump through the necessary hoops’ in order to gain help and advice. The new law does have a term on which ‘Failure to Comply’ is dealt with. Failing to comply should be seen as ‘deliberately and unreasonably refusing’ to comply with the personal plan set out at the assessment stage.

Failing to comply would result in relief and prevention duties being limited to securing accommodation for a temporary period until eligibility for assistance ceases; the person becomes homeless intentionally leaving accommodation made available to them; accepts an offer of assured tenancy from a private landlord; accepts or refuses a ‘final’ offer of accommodation.

When deciding if someone has deliberately and unreasonably refused to cooperate with the Local Authority, they must take into account the circumstances and needs of the individual.

Carers Leave – anyone under the age of 21 will be deemed to have a local connection with the area if they were cared for, fostered or accommodated within the local area for a period of at least 2 years.

 

This new legislation that has come into force does have the main aim of providing a framework for Local Authorities when dealing with people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness for whatever reason.

For the legislation to be effective within the local area, Local Authorities should ideally seek to work with all organisations who interact and work with the homeless community as well as the organisations that work with those who are at risk of becoming homeless.

 

 

*All information in this article is that interpreted from the legislation by Helping Hands Portsmouth. Details of the official legislative act can be found here.

 

Easter Sunday 2018

Easter on the streets.

Easter is often like Christmas. A family time, when the city shuts down for the day and most of us retreat into our homes for good food, company, warmth and lots of indulgence. Very hard to be homeless but society does at least reach out to the street sleepers.

Easter Sunday is no different. The streets are empty, shops shut and homeless men and women are left behind – their loneliness and isolation felt even more strongly than normal. Very, very few people reach out though.

We’re on it! Easter eggs, hot food, laughter and company is our mission today.

Tonight’s food is a hot roast turkey meal with veg and gravy. Roast dinners are very liked amongst our friends living on the street.

Mother’s Day 2018: On the Streets

Mother’s day can be a tough and challenging time for people living on our streets. Many don’t have contact with their mothers and some are even mums themselves, yet won’t be seeing their son or daughter today.

Many of the homeless people and rough sleepers will be sat, stood or walking around the vicinity they live in seeing families going about their days in a lively and happy mood. Making the day bring as much attention as possible to the mother of the family.

Seeing this can be emotionally and mentally difficult.

However, our chair and founder, Bev, is always there for anyone living on the streets of Portsmouth. She is often known as ‘the mother of the streets’.

Bev received a mother’s day card and gift from all the guys out on the street this evening.

She has a very unique approach when we are out on outreach and a lot of the people we see do see Bev as a mother figure.

When they feel down, Bev is there to pick them up. When they’re having a tough time and need an ear or a shoulder, Bev is there for them.

The whole team were set back by the gesture in all honesty, these guys have very little yet contribute to get ‘mum of the streets’ a card and gift on Mother’s Day.

From all of the people living on the streets Bev, Happy Mother’s Day!

(permission was sought for the photograph to be taken and put on our website.)

The Beast from the East strikes the UK

As this cold snap hits the UK and the ‘Beast from the East’ strikes, you and I know better than anyone that it’s cold and bitter when you step outside. Temperatures today have barely got above 2°C

Working with the rough sleepers of Portsmouth they have told us less people than usual are stopping because it’s so cold.

Please, if you do one thing today, tomorrow or throughout the week just take 2 minutes, just 2 minutes, to check someone who is homeless is okay. That hot drink you may buy them may actually save their lives.

You can go indoors after your trip home from work to a nicely heated home, or back to the nicely heated office after lunchtime. They can’t. The streets are their home. The only shelter from the wind they have is that provided by a doorway.

An Ex-Marine Moves into a Flat of His Own

One of our loveliest homeless friends is about to move into his own proper flat.

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We have enjoyed the humour and spirit of Dave, a former Marine, from street to hostel to – at long last – a home of his own.

True to form, Dave wanted to celebrate by giving back to his street comrades so bought them a big joint of beef. This week’s Sunday outreach? You guessed it! Roast beef and yorkshire puddings, veg, cauliflower cheese and gravy.

Please join us in wishing this wise, resilient, generous gentleman every success in his new home.