Thursday, November 30, 2023

Newham Annual Rough Sleeping Count November 23


On Tuesday evening I took part with fellow councillors, outreach workers, council officers and other volunteers in the annual count of people sleeping "rough" in Newham. Across the country similar counts are taking place. Newham also does extra counts every alternative month. 

We had to arrive at Newham Dockside building for 11pm to be briefed (and eat the provided crisps, biscuits, chocolates and mince pies) then go out to be on site from midnight up to 3am. 

I was a driver and "counter" paired with an outreach officer from the homelessness Charity "Change, Grow, Live" who are contracted by Newham. I am also one of the two UNISON NEC members (and employed in the sector) for the UNISON Housing Associations and Voluntary organisations Community Service Group, so it is always interesting to speak with other workers who I represent nationally (wearing of course different hat). It was pretty cold that night and I had 4 layers of clothing, gloves and a UNISON LAS hat. 

We were asked to visit tower blocks in Newham where there had been past reports of rough sleeping. We had to visit 8 such blocks - take the lift up to the top floor then walk down the fire escape communal stairs. 

On our first tower block we found 2 rough sleepers settling down to sleep on the stairs and a third bed unoccupied. We engaged with them and they were polite and apologetic for sleeping on the stairs and explained that they believed that they will be getting more suitable accommodation very soon. We made arrangements for the follow up team in the morning to visit them and offer advice and support. This team started at 5am. 

You can see from the stats in the picture college that the number of rough sleepers in Newham has gone down dramatically in recent years. But it is still a huge issue and while they must be treated with respect and humanity, it is simply not a safe place to sleep on our streets (or communal stairways'). 

I do not know the overall Newham figures yet but will post again when I do. 

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