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Official count says there are fewer rough sleepers in Cornwall

Cornwall has fewer people sleeping rough according to latest figures, independently verified by Homeless Link and agreed by partner agencies in Cornwall.

Twenty four people were recorded as sleeping rough on our streets on one night last month (November 2019), down by 55% when compared to the 53 people recorded in November 2018. 

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That’s a 76% reduction on the 99 people recorded as sleeping rough on a night in November 2016.

Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for homes Andrew Mitchell said: “Compared to national trends, we’ve made good progress over the last three years and these latest figures are a snapshot which suggest that our co-ordinated partnership approach and action plan is working.  We’re committed to ensuring that no one is forced to sleep rough in Cornwall.  We want to make sure the help is there for those threatened with having to sleep rough.  We also help those already living on the streets so that they have the support they need to lead settled lives.”

The principles behind the Council’s strategy are to

  • step in early to help those threatened with having to sleep rough,
  • help new rough sleepers quickly access housing help and support,
  • identify and provide support for entrenched rough sleepers to help them off the streets permanently.

The latest figure comes from the annual estimate on the number of rough sleepers in Cornwall counted on a typical night in November 2019.  The count follows published guidance from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). The figure was also agreed by partner agencies in Cornwall including St Petrocs, Addaction, and Coastline Housing.  All local authorities undertake an estimate or a count at this time of year.

With funding from the Council, MHCLG and Cornwall Housing, projects have been designed, developed and put in place with partners to include:

  • The Nos Da Kernow (Cornish for 'Good night Cornwall') project which works hard to prevent homelessness in the first place
  • Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub - a roving rapid assessment centre providing sit up space 24/7 for rough sleepers and those at risk of rough sleeping
  • A Supported Lodgings scheme to help those who have a history of rough sleeping so that they can gain the skills needed to live independently
  • A Navigator service which supports those with multiple/complex needs throughout their journey off the streets and into independence
  • Homeless Patient Hospital Discharge Service so that those identified as homeless are discharged from hospital into suitable accommodation
  • Short-term Accommodation with Resettlement Support (STAR) project– providing an additional 37 bed spaces with support to those in need
  • Assertive Street Outreach Team who will go onto the streets to talk and offer help to those who are sleeping rough 
  • Cold Weather Provision emergency accommodation over the winter which includes the permanent 18 bed night shelter in Pool near Camborne, run by Coastline, and a new night shelter, with up to 15 beds, in the former Lloyds Bank building in St Austell.  

Andrew Mitchell adds:  “We need to keep up the momentum.”

“We need to remember just how quickly someone can find themselves faced with the prospect of sleeping rough.”

“The reasons why people become a rough sleeper are often complicated.  What we do know is that the longer someone remains on the street, the more difficult it can be to move them back into settled accommodation. The strong focus on prevention and early intervention through effective partnership working is key. There is no sole service or agency responsible for addressing rough sleeping and multi-agency approaches prove to be the most effective means of tackling rough sleeping.”

The Cornwall Rough Sleeper Operational Group (CRSOG) which  includes Cornwall Council, Cornwall Housing Ltd, Coastline Housing, Voluntary Sector Providers, Safer Cornwall, the Drug and Alcohol Action Team, Devon and Cornwall Police, Public Health (including Mental Health Services) and Inclusion Cornwall work together to help and support individuals with complex needs and develop joint solutions for them.

Dave Brown from housing charity St Petrocs said: “This latest recorded number of people on our streets is very encouraging and demonstrates that the effort put in by all the partners here in Cornwall is working. The work to stem the flow of new people on to the streets must continue if we are to end street homelessness in Cornwall. Our winter services will, as usual, be open in Truro and Penzance this winter, alongside those being run by our partners.”

Nick Cross, Managing Director of Cornwall Housing said: “Cornwall demonstrates that excellent partnership working is key to preventing and alleviating rough sleeping.”

“The way in which agencies work together to tailor solutions that meet an individual’s needs is proof that a personalised approach can yield really positive results.”

“Whilst we still have more work to do, we are now starting to see a sustained outcome from the Rough Sleeping Reduction Strategy and this gives us a really positive base to build upon for the future.”

Anyone who is concerned about someone sleeping rough should contact Streetlink – a 24/7 website, or phone (0300 500 0914) to send out an alert about the location of someone sleeping rough.

Streetlink will then pass on the information to our Assertive Street Outreach Team.  The team will make contact with the person rough sleeping within 48 hours of receiving a report to carry out an assessment to identify their needs and support them into accommodation.

Anyone who feels they are in danger of having to sleep rough should call Cornwall Housing on 0300 1234 161.