Saturday, May 28, 2022

Newham Council Bi Monthly Street Count - Wednesday 26th May 2022


Picture of volunteers, Councillors and Council outreach staff before the latest bi monthly count of people sleeping "rough" in Newham.

We met at Newham Dockside building at 11pm. We had a briefing on the purpose of the count and how to make sure that we treat everyone with respect and dignity, while being aware of our personal safety.

After the briefing we split into our teams and talked about how we would visit all our allocated sites and made sure we had the right instructions, directions, keys, touches etc.

There were 5 "count" teams and also staff left in Newham Dockside to make hourly safety check calls and deal with any issues that may come up. We had to start the "count" at midnight and be back to Newham Dockside at 3AM at the latest.

My team was led by Ali who is a Newham outreach worker. We also had Martina, who is a civil servant with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, who have been supporting our bi monthly counts and myself.

Our first stop was at a Council tower block where there had been reports of people sleeping "rough" nearby . I had been here before but had never seen anyone. This time to our surprise, we were asked to come into the block and speak to 3 young men, who were sleeping in a disused store room inside the block. They wanted help and assistance. They were very polite, wearing dressing gowns and gave us their names and telephone numbers in order for outreach workers to contact them.

We then walked through some parks but did not see anyone (but were challenged by a Police patrol as we were unlocking a gate to get in).

There was one scene we came across, which was to me rather upsetting. 3 men were fast asleep on a pavement wrapped together outside a building next to a busy main road sharing one blanket. While it was not as cold and wet as the last count in March (where I saw no-one sleeping on the streets) I could not imagine myself sleeping at this site. I hope the early morning outreach workers (who start at 5am) and will be tasked to speak to them, will be able to help them find more suitable accommodation.

We finished relatively early and went back to Dockside to report our findings.

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