Archive for December 3rd, 2013

December 3, 2013

Homelessness in 2013 – Photo Voices

by backpackingbongos

When I am not busy tramping the mountains and moors I spend four days a week working as an Advocate.  A part of this role is providing opportunities for the most marginalised people in the East Midlands to get their voices heard.  I work primarily in the homeless sector.

These are scary times to find yourself homeless and with no one to turn to.  Homeless charities often pick up the pieces.  What many people are probably not aware of is the fact that these charities are often funded by Local Authorities.  Charitable donations alone do not build and run homeless hostels or provide the essential support.  Framework is the largest provider in the East Midlands.

As Local Authority budgets get squeezed they have to choose where they spend their money.  Apart from statutory services, funding is no longer ring fenced.

Nottinghamshire County Council have just released their latest Budget Proposals for consultation.  Hidden deep within a hefty document is their proposal for housing related support services.  This they want to cut by £4.2m and end the Nottinghamshire Welfare Assistance Scheme.  So what does this mean?

– Close all direct access homeless services in the County.  That means that four hostels will close and there will be no quick access homelessness services in Nottinghamshire.  None.  Zero.  No where to go.

– Close all drug and alcohol accommodation services.

– Close all offender accommodation services.

– Stop all homeless prevention floating support.  It is these services that can help prevent people becoming homeless in the first place.

– Reduce funding for Mental Health services.

– Stop the Nottinghamshire Welfare Assistance Scheme for people who find themselves in crisis.

Those affected by these proposals can easily find that they are excluded from consultations.  Especially so in the digital age.  Therefore as an organisation we are out and about running letter writing workshops so that they get the opportunity to write to their councillors.  We also photograph individuals with their personal messages to the decision makers.  These are the voices of those we met yesterday in Worksop.

IMG_7806

IMG_7823

IMG_7848

P1060239

P1060246

P1060255

P1060261

P1060262

This time next year there is a very real possibility of large numbers of the most vulnerable ending up on the streets.  As well as the devastating social implications there will be cost implications as the NHS and criminal justice system pick up the pieces.

If anyone would like to post a comment below I will collate them and post to the Labour controlled Nottinghamshire County Council.

The organisation that I work for is called SEA (Services for Empowerment and Advocacy).  Our groovy website is here.

Also some good reading on this very subject on Patrick Butler’s blog here.