Rough sleeping across Birmingham has reduced thanks to the help and support of community groups, council commissioned services, health and voluntary partners.
Today (Thursday 27 February), the Government released annual figures detailing the number of rough sleepers across all English local authorities, as recorded on one night in November. In Birmingham, rough sleeping has almost halved with an approximate 52 people recorded as sleeping rough in the 2019 count, compared to 91 in the previous year.
The decrease marks the largest reduction in rough sleeping of any core city in England.
The count in Birmingham took place on 22 November with partners and specialists taking to the streets to count, and more importantly, engage with the city’s rough sleepers. A key part to the council’s approach to addressing rough sleeping has been in its flexibility and willingness to adapt.
The numbers counted in November 2019 include (the previous year's number in brackets):
- West Midlands region - 319 (420)
- Birmingham 52 (91)
- Bromsgrove 3 (0)
- Dudley 4 (5)
- North Warwickshire 0 (2)
- Redditch 2 (7)
- Sandwell 10 (14)
- Solihull 6 (4)
- Walsall 6 (11)
- Wolverhampton 19 (14)
Over the course of the last 12 months, Birmingham has changed the provider for its Birmingham Rough Sleeper Outreach Team to Trident Reach, has increased the number of staff on the team and expanded the area they cover, from the city centre to city-wide.
The local authority has also expanded its accommodation and capacity to provide for overnight Severe Weather Emergency Provision and is working collaboratively with voluntary and faith sectors alike to achieve this.
While the council and its partners are pleased by the success seen so far, Birmingham is clear in its ambitions for rough sleepers across the city.
Cllr Sharon Thompson, cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods at Birmingham City Council said, “It’s a fantastic achievement to reduce the numbers by so much and our local intelligence shows that this number is continuing to fall. However, we need to be clear that there’s still much more we need to do.
“Rough sleeping is a devastating and chaotic lifestyle and 52 people sleeping rough is far too many. While it would be disingenuous for me to say we’ll put an end to rough sleeping, our ultimate aim is a realistic one; to get this figure as low as we possibly can through prevention and support.
“In Birmingham, we’ve taken a collaborative approach with partners across the city. It starts with the Birmingham Homelessness Partnership Board and drives right down to frontline staff and volunteers who are out there every day and night supporting people. We’ve listened to the feedback shared with us and we’ve made huge changes to our services. I couldn’t be prouder of the work that’s been carried out here in Birmingham and I’m optimistic for the future.”
If you are concerned about anyone sleeping rough, please contact StreetLink.
The number of people sleeping rough in Birmingham is slowly but surely reducing. But to affect real change, it takes the time, care and support of many. To read Steve’s* story and know how he moved away from his life on the streets, click HERE.