L-R Nick Forbes and Bob Eldridge

Agencies in Newcastle are coming together to try and put an end to rough sleeping on the city’s streets for good.

A new partnership, called Street Zero, is bringing together key partners to prevent homelessness occurring in the first place and to end rough sleeping for good.

Although the number of rough sleepers in Newcastle is lower than many other cities, the problem has worsened in recent years with up to 20 people sleeping in the city centre on any given night.

Street Zero brings together organisations from four sectors – public,
business, charities and community organisations to tackle the problem.

The Street Zero Partnership Board says this collaboration is essential, as the challenges that lead to rough sleeping can’t be managed by a single agency or service alone.

Bob Eldridge MBE from Newcastle Homeless Commission is the Street Zero Chair.

Previously chair of trustees with The People’s Kitchen, he has more than 35 years’
experience working with vulnerable people, many with complex mental health issues and
personal challenges: “People who are rough sleeping are in that situation because of complex personal challenges, not just because of a lack of accommodation,” he said.

“Rough sleeping is not inevitable and by working better together to help address the individual’s physical and mental health problems we can prevent people from sleeping rough in the first place.

“Newcastle is a city that cares. Every day, I see examples of the compassion shown by
residents and people who live and work in the city, the businesses that take their corporate
social responsibility seriously, and the many public and third sector organisations who are
already working in partnership towards ending homelessness.”

Street Zero aims to build on this compassion and utilises already established agencies to
further develop practical actions to alleviate disadvantage and suffering so that no one
needs to sleep rough.

The Board’s newly developed “joined up” approach revolves around three key steps:
prevention, responding and transforming.

Prevention looks at how to stop people having to sleep rough in the first place.

Responding is about working together to provide personalised support to people sleeping rough via assertive outreach, offering a route off the streets as quickly as possible.

The final element is about transformation; changing the city’s accommodation and support services to better help vulnerable people.

The situation doesn’t have an overnight solution, but by working in partnership and
implementing new strategies it is anticipated that the lives of many vulnerable people will
change for the better over the next four years.

A new emergency fund has been set up to help people who are rough sleeping or at risk of
rough sleeping, by showing kindness and paying for things they need to help them to
move away from a life on the streets.

“The well-established system of services we have in Newcastle is very effective in solving
rough sleeping and the best way for anyone to help is to support and contribute to the
system through the Street Zero Emergency Fund rather than individually giving to people
on the streets,” said Mr Eldridge.

“Street Zero donations are channelled to local nominated services and charities working
directly with people sleeping on the streets who are then able to purchase items and
services on behalf of the people most in need.”

Leader of Newcastle City Council Nick Forbes said; “Our city is coming together to end homelessness, because we know we all have a part to play in that aim.

“Whether that’s the council or the voluntary sector, or just people passing by and wanting
to help.

“We know that at this time of year it’s more important than ever that we renew those efforts and make sure no one feels the need to sleep rough.

“The Sleep Zero fund is a great way for people from all backgrounds to help out, and I
know Newcastle will get right behind it.”

Further support has been given by The Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Christine
Hardman who is the partnership’s Patron.

‘‘The values of Street Zero, honouring the human dignity of every person, are values I
share and I am proud to be your Patron.

“With determination and a desire for coordinated action, I believe Street Zero stands a real chance of ending homelessness in our City. This will be my hope and prayer for the work that is now to begin in earnest.’

Anyone who sees someone sleeping rough can let the Council know by e-mailing
roughsleeping@newcastle.gov.uk or by calling 0191 278 3899 where action will be taken
to offer help and assistance.

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