Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands has attended the launch of a new initiative that will help rough sleepers in Coventry.
Change into Action is an alternative giving scheme supporting local specialist charities and street teams working to change the circumstances of rough sleepers and those at risk of rough sleeping in Coventry.
Agencies in Coventry working together to address street homelessness, businesses and councillors have given their backing to the approach which is already operating in Birmingham and Solihull.
From left: Melissa Russell, Change Grow Live Coventry; Sophie Hall, Housing and Homelessness Commissioning Manager; Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands; Cllr Tariq Khan, Cabinet Member, Housing and Communities; Sam Barker, The Arc; and Nobby Clarke, Coventry Emergency Shelter.
Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street said: “The only way we are going to be able to ‘design out’ homelessness – the aim of the West Midlands Homelessness Task Force – is by facing up to our moral responsibility and working collaboratively.
“With that in mind I am pleased that Coventry City Council has become the latest authority to work with the West Midlands Combined Authority and adopt the Change into Action scheme. The scheme represents an alternative way to give, with people knowing that their donation will really make a difference to the lives of those who are sleeping rough or who are at risk of doing so.
“The battle to end homelessness has been incredibly difficult, but it feels like we are finally making progress. Change into Action has played a positive part in this, and I hope we will be able to roll it out across the rest of the West Midlands in due course.”
A web page has been set up to coordinate public donations, with Feeding Coventry - a local charity, working to distribute the money raised by the public, directly to rough sleepers. www.changeintoaction.org.uk
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) developed the website and guided Coventry City Council on how to put Change into Action in place. This is the third such scheme WMCA has been involved in after setting up schemes in Birmingham and Solihull.
Coventry’s Homelessness Forum has recently put together a new Coventry Rough Sleeping Strategy for 2019-2024, which aims to eliminate street homelessness by 2022.
A number of projects are in place to work with rough sleepers and to prevent people sleeping rough in the first place, however there remains challenges in getting people who are sleeping on the street to engage with outreach workers and agencies.
Cllr Tariq Khan, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, said: “In Coventry we want to help people who are street homeless to build a positive life that will aid recovery. There are shelters where people can get a bed, shower and food and drink but for different reasons we all witness people sleeping rough or begging on the street.
“Eliminating street homelessness in Coventry remains a key priority for the Council. Bringing together the existing generosity of the public and the commitment of different agencies is a productive step forward in tackling homelessness.
“We want to really see the donation page take off. It’s important to be able to let people know where rough sleepers are benefiting from the money raised.”
Change into Action also points the public in the direction of Streetlink; a platform that allows individuals to report the location of people they see rough sleeping or have any worries about them. This way the specialist outreach workers can offer the appropriate support needed.
Change into Action gathers donations to support the specialist organisation already working with homeless people in Coventry and helps to get people off the streets and back into the community.
Money donated will be used to help people with everything from overnight temporary accommodation to new clothing and training for jobs. Agencies will apply on behalf of rough sleepers to receive a payment to either purchase goods or services that will either prevent rough sleeping or assist to move somebody into accommodation.
To report and refer a rough sleeper for help, please contact Streetlink at streetlink.org.uk or call 0300 500 0914
If you think the person is in immediate danger or needs urgent care, please call 999.