As part of Leicester’s emergency response to COVID-19, 130 rough sleepers were housed in hotels and student accommodation – 20 of whom have already been supported into permanent homes. Find out about the full emergency response from Leicester and other campaign cities in our latest report: Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Joined the campaign: February 2017
Who’s involved? The campaign in Leicester is led by local homelessness charity Action Homeless. It is part of a co-ordinated approach to tackling street homelessness, which successfully brings together different organisations including De Montfort University (including DMU Local), East Midlands Housing Group, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, Leicestershire Police, The Y, Inclusion Healthcare and Leicester City Council.
What has happened so far? Leicester ran their Connections Week in November 2017. Volunteers, including many from De Montfort University, went out on the streets, to day centres, and other services to talk with those sleeping rough and find out their needs. 91 people were surveyed and a large majority were found to be very vulnerable. During the week various people were offered emergency accommodation to help them off the street. The findings were presented at a community event, which you can read more about in this report.
The Connections Week was the first time in 16 years that there had been a full survey of homeless people in the city. Many of the people who were surveyed had not been previously known to services. The Connections Week was able to show a more realistic picture of those sleeping on the streets resulting in more people accessing support.
As a result of the campaign, the Leicester Homelessness Charter was launched in October 2018. It has signatories that include statutory bodies – including the City Mayor, charities, community groups, businesses, faith groups and the public. The Charter brings together all these groups committed to ending homelessness in the city. Part of their focus has been on fundraising for homelessness services – they have successfully installed 16 contactless giving points across the city.
The city and wider county of Leicestershire are also developing a rough sleeper recording system, based on the CHAIN database used in London. As this is adopted fully, it will be made accessible to other organisations who engage with rough sleepers, such as hospitals and day services, in order to gather a full picture of the lives of people sleeping on the street.
In 2019, people who have experienced homelessness worked with the campaign in Leicester to help shape future homelessness services. This has been supported by World Habitat’s Innovation Grant.
What’s next? Action Homeless has been awarded a Housing First Grant of £310,000 from The Henry Smith Charity. The programme, which is set to begin soon, is initially funded for four years and will be the first of its kind in Leicester, providing support and homes for 18 people who are currently sleeping on the streets.