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Council supports website helping homeless people make the right move  

Homeless people in Birmingham are just one click away from connecting with with local landlords thanks to a new website Homeless Rooms Birmingham .

HomelessRooms logoBirmingham City Council is working with the creators of this new scheme in a pilot to help homeless people make the right move into long term accommodation.

The idea for Homeless Rooms Birmingham came from social entrepreneurs Mark Peters and Lee Blake. After speaking to prospective tenants (mostly young people) who were searching to find a place to live in the city, they found that the expensive deposits and high fees charged by some landlords and estate agents were putting accommodation way out of these young people’s reach.

On the Homeless Rooms Birmingham website, people can search for decent quality accommodation, offered by landlords who accept people as tenants without deposits, admin fees or high rents. There is also advice to help prevent a person from becoming homeless, or support a person to move on from a hostel.

Councillor Sharon Thompson, Ambassador for addressing rough sleeping and homelessness at Birmingham City Council, said: “Homeless Rooms Birmingham is an innovative way of helping homeless people make the move into long term accommodation. We are keen to see this scheme for increasing access to supported housing get off the ground, so we are match funding monies that they raise via their Crowdfunding campaign. “

Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, added:  “We’ve seen a dramatic rise in homelessness and rough sleeping across the country in recent years and Birmingham is no different. So we’re looking for creative ways to tackle this crisis and we work closely with partners to find solutions to support those at risk.

“Homeless Rooms Birmingham is the latest new initiative, following the recent launch of Change Into Action – an alternative giving scheme created in partnership with the Mayor for the West Midlands. We will also be introducing a Housing First pilot, to offer people entrenched in homelessness permanent homes and help them get their lives back on track. These are all part of our vision to eradicate homelessness in Birmingham.”

Cold weather provision for rough sleepers in Birmingham

Cllr Sharon Thompson, Birmingham City Council’s ambassador for addressing rough sleeping and homelessness, outlines the measures in place to support rough sleepers in the freezing cold weather.

Since the end of November our cold weather provision has been in place and will remain in place until the weather improves.

We also have a Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP) protocol, which is initiated in Birmingham whenever there is a yellow weather warning in place, or whenever temperatures have a real feel of zero degrees or below. The criteria for initiating the provision in Birmingham go beyond the Homeless Link guidance, as we base our activities on actual temperatures.

SWEP opens up rest rooms across our supported hostels.  It is particularly aimed at the most hard to reach rough sleepers to prevent them from being out in the most severe weather.  It provides a hot meal and breakfast and an opportunity to try and engage with those accessing the provision.

Access to SWEP is co-ordinated by Midland Heart, who deliver our commissioned outreach service.  This service is known as HOST (Homeless Outreach Service Team).

The SWEP can be accessed in the following ways:

1. Via the HOST – anyone can refer individuals to this service by:

  • Phone 07483 981912
  • Website: www.streetlink.org.uk .You can use this website to send an alert to HOST about a rough sleeper.  The first time you use this website you will need to create an account.  This takes approximately 30 seconds and it is easy to use. 

2. Via Salvation Army – this service operates as an out of hours service for HOST.  It is only to be used outside of the core hours for HOST listed above.  Anyone can refer individuals to this service by phoning 0121 236 6554.  Please note that the Salvation Army operate a limited service and will signpost individuals to accommodation rather than outreach.  They will base their decision on accommodation based on current availability; location of the rough sleeper and their known risk factors.  This may involve referring them to Birmingham City Council Temporary Accommodation.

3. Via SIFA Fireside, 48 Alcock Street, Birmingham, B9 4DY – this is accessed by individuals by attending the centre and during its opening hours.

4. Via attending at the hostel – individuals can attend the accommodation providers commissioned by Birmingham City Council and request accommodation.  However, this may be subject to spaces still being available and rough sleepers may be sent to alternative providers, if already full.

In addition to the above, there are a number of voluntary providers who deliver overnight shelter provision, for example, As Suffa and the Church Night Shelter.  Midland Heart will link in with them as appropriate.

There will also be an annual Christmas Shelter, which will be open from 23rd -27th December run from St George’s Hub, Great Hampton Row.