Birmingham has a handle on rough sleeping – but how long can that last?

Posted on: 29 Feb 24

In the annual Rough Sleeper Count, Birmingham was the largest local authority in the UK to see a decrease of people sleeping on the streets in 2023. The UK’s second city saw the number of people rough sleeping comparable to West Northamptonshire which is 38% of its size.

The rough sleeper count is an annual count undertaken across the country to assess how many people are sleeping rough. While homelessness is a complex issue and can appear in different ways such as sofa-surfing, the rough sleeper count helps councils and the government to assess how well policies are working to help people at risk.

Birmingham stands out as one of the few big cities which has seen a decrease in numbers from 39 in 2022 to 36 in 2023. This figure is a snapshot of the number of people sleeping rough in Birmingham during Autumn 2023.

Birmingham has achieved this impressive result with a partner driven approach seeing partners such as Trident Group, Cranstoun, St Basil’s, and Spring Housing collaborate with the city council to provide a trauma informed approach to support people at risk. Trident Group is the lead in this partnership providing 101 emergency bed provision, outreach teams, as well as further support through complex needs accommodation. These services offer wrap around support supporting people to maintain their homes, access work and training, and to break the cycle of homelessness.

Trident Group’s homelessness pathway helps someone who is homeless to find the best place for them. This includes our Adult Transition Centres and our Housing First Scheme which helps people into properties and to keep their homes. This can include mental health support, substance abuse recovery, as well as work and training opportunities. This hidden side of homelessness services ensures that people once helped from the streets keep a room over their head. It is vital that these services as well as emergency outreach provision are protected by government and receive appropriate funding.

Helen Litherland, Executive Director for Housing, Care and Support, said,

“Birmingham has done an amazing job helping people off the streets into their own home. This work is complex and requires a great deal of commitment. Birmingham is a success because it focuses on helping people into long-term accommodation rather than quick fixes. With the recent section 114, this is potentially at risk. To ensure that we are able to continue to help the people of Birmingham, we need the backing and support of national government. Birmingham’s success comes from local partners working together. Most importantly we need the promise of financial backing and support from national government and the protection of successful local authority work such as the homelessness provision here in Birmingham”.

David Watson, Head of Homelessness Services, adds,

“While this count is taken on one night, the success Birmingham has seen is through the hard work 24/7 365 days a year. Our outreach and homelessness teams work everyday building relationships with people rough sleeping. They know every single person who is sleeping on Birmingham’s streets and their hard work means that we can help these people into accommodation. Every week we house people for more to need our support. Last year our Emergency Bed provision opened 538 tenancies and provided ongoing support to 496 people. This week, however, we saw 13 people for the first time showing how many people are at risk. We need to ensure that rough sleeping remains a priority for all.”

See the difference that housing services can make

Read more about Rough Sleeper Count.

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