To receive a joint report from the Director of Communities, Housing and Environment and the Director of Adults and Health that provides a high level progress statement against the recommendations in the commissioned Leeds independent thematic review: Understanding and progressing the city’s learning of the experience of people living a street-based life in Leeds.
A joint report from the Director of Communities, Housing and Environment and the Director of Adults and Health was submitted to the Board which presented a high level progress statement against the recommendations in the commissioned Leeds independent thematic review: Understanding and
progressing the city’s learning of the experience of people living a street-based life in Leeds.
The following were in attendance:
· Councillor Fiona Venner, Executive Member for Children’s Social Care and Health Partnerships
· Caroline Baria, Interim Director of Adults and Health
· Victoria Eaton, Director of Public Health
· Shona McFarlane, Deputy Director Social Work and Social Care Service
· Richard Jones CBE, Independent Chair of the Leeds Safeguarding Adults Board
· Simon Hodgson, Head of Community Safety Services
· Magdalena Boo, Head of Public Health (Drugs, Alcohol, Safer Communities)
The Chair invited the Head of Community Safety Services to introduce the report and in doing so, the following key points were highlighted:
· In the winter of 2019/20, Leeds Safeguarding Adults Board commissioned a thematic review, with the specific intention to understand and progress the city’s learning of the experience of people living a street-based life in Leeds.
· Much has been achieved in Leeds during this period, including national recognised innovation, as the city compares favourably with other core cities and is highlighted as good practice relating to homeless prevention and for the action collectively undertaken for new presentations on the street. However, the council is not complacent as there remains significant and emerging challenges, with real pressures in and across the system, some of which are beyond the council’s control.
· In July 2023, the Councils Executive Board formally approved the new statutory required, ‘Homeless and Rough Sleeping Strategy’ (2023 – 2028).
· September 2023 also saw the 5th year anniversary of the Leeds Street Support Partnership, and reducing the scale, prevalence and impact of rough sleeping remains a priority for the city.
· It is acknowledged that any instances of rough sleeping should be rare, brief, and non-recurrent, so throughout the ‘pathways’ from street to home, the ‘system’ needs to work in an integrated way, making every adult matter and making every contact count.
· Those on the street, at risk of and/ or returning to rough sleeping will have unique personal experiences, histories, and circumstances. Many will have experienced trauma, often in their childhood and/ or early adulthood, for
example abusive childhoods, family breakdowns, violence, debt and compounded by other known factors of multiple disadvantages.
· For people with ‘severe complex needs’ and who display ‘risky behaviours’, they are subjecting themselves, their families and communities to harm, or significant risk of increased harm.
· Many will also have mental health issues, including a high prevalence of self-harm and general poor health is evident.
· The ease and availability of drugs on the street can affect an individual’s decision to use drugs and/or reduce the likelihood of them accessing treatment for their physical and mental health.
· For those on the street for the first time, experiencing homelessness can make them extremely vulnerable with increased risk of exploitation, violence and abuse against them, trafficking, and involvement in urban street gangs or organised criminal activity.
· For those who frequently ‘fall through the gaps’ between services and systems, where people do not fit legislative requirements and/ or numerous organisational criteria/ thresholds, this makes it harder for them to address their personal issues, problems and thereby lead fulfilling lives.
· Operationally, all known people rough sleeping have an identified Lead Professional and assigned Key Workers, adopting a strengths-based approach to create, review, and progress a bespoke Personal Plan. A case study example was shared with the Board in terms of illustrating how support services had positively impacted on an individual’s life.
· Additional supported housing and navigator support has been developed significantly since the review and coming out of the pandemic. A particular example shared with the Board included the development of a women’s pathway, through the gender informed and gender responsive ‘Somewhere Safe to Stay’ and ‘Somewhere Safe to Live’.
· In acknowledging that other examples of innovative programmes had been provided within the report, it was highlighted that work is currently being progressed via Task and Finish Group to establish a Leeds Health Inclusion/ People First Board with senior level cross-sector representation, for specific population groups facing multiple disadvantage and who have severe complex needs. The intention is for this Board to move forward in considering and commissioning innovation and breakthrough opportunities, within an agreed governance framework.
The following areas were also discussed during the Board’s consideration of the report:
· Reporting concerns to Street Link - The Board was informed that anyone concerned about an individual sleeping rough in Leeds are advised to report this to Street Link (thestreetlink.org.uk) as this will send an alert to the local authority or outreach service for the area to help them find the individual and connect them to support.
· Acknowledging the valuable work of existing support services – Individual Board Members took the opportunity to relay their thanks and share positive experiences of visiting and working with a number of existing support services, such as the Street Outreach Service, St George’s Crypt, St Anne’s Resource Centre and York Street Health Practice. The Head of Community Safety Services agreed to provide all Board Members with a list of key contacts for these relevant support schemes and organisations.
· Comparing Leeds to other core cities – The Board discussed the data appended to the report which detailed rough sleeping core metrics compared with other core cities. It was noted that Leeds proactively approaches other core cities, such as Birmingham, to explore opportunities for sharing good practice.
· Emergency/support accommodation – While acknowledging that the emergency/support accommodation offer in Leeds has improved, it was recognised that more provision was still needed across the city.
· Training opportunities for staff – It was noted that organisations offering support services can access training opportunities for their staff. Particular reference was made to safeguarding training and the Board was advised that any organisation signed up to the Leeds Homelessness Charter are required to ensure that their staff have undertaken safeguarding training.
· Accessing universal NHS services – The Board discussed the importance of those living street-based lives to still have easy access to vital health care services. Rather than having to commission specialist services, it was felt that such individuals should be able to access support as part of their entitlement to universal NHS services.
· Supporting individuals with pets – It was acknowledged that many people experiencing homelessness rely on their dogs for warmth, comfort and companionship and that pets can also aid positive recovery. It was highlighted that while support offered to individuals with pets has improved over the last few years, there does remain a gap in provision.
· Intelligence mapping across the city – It was noted that while the council does undertake intelligence mapping to help identify particular issues across the city, it remains vitally important for anyone concerned about an individual sleeping rough in Leeds to make a referral to Street Link.
· Cross boundary collaboration – For individuals who may not be originally from Leeds but have opted to remain in the city, it was noted that the Council will work in collaboration with relevant local authorities and particularly neighbouring authorities, when seeking to identify and provide support and accommodation for that individual.
In conclusion, the Board acknowledged and welcomed the level of progress that has been made since the thematic review was commissioned in 2019/20 and the Chair thanked everyone for their valuable contribution to the Board’s discussion.
RESOLVED - That the report, along with Members comments, be noted.