A report into the city’s approach to rough sleepers was discussed by senior Councillors at Leeds City council’s executive board on 21 October 2020.
The independent report was commissioned following the deaths of ten people living on the streets between October 2017 and March 2019. The report found that over 400 people had slept rough in Leeds at least once during 2019 and that 500 people had been recorded begging on at least one occasion during that time
The report also detailed the work of the Street Support Team, set up in 2018, to co-ordinate approaches by the council and other agencies including the police and charities. The team work across the whole city, not just the city centre. The report concluded that this approach was working, but that lessons could be learned and improvements made.
Commenting on the report, Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities, said:
“Firstly, I would like to express our respects and sympathies to the families of those who have sadly died in the circumstances which have led to this independent review being undertaken. One death on our streets is too many and it is always a tragedy when it unfortunately occurs.
“Many of the issues associated with people rough sleeping and/or living a street-based lifestyle are extremely challenging and complex. It was for this reason that in 2018 we set up as part of a city-wide approach a designated Street Support Team to ensure the best possible help could be offered. An update on the work which has been taken is provided in this executive board report, along with an overview of what we are doing to meet the challenges offered by coronavirus to help those in need and an outline of our planned future work.
“We know these are difficult circumstances, but even during this review we have been working on this and we are starting to see positive outcomes on the streets. We know we are not there yet but we continue to be dedicated to this work.
“We are currently assessing closely the findings of the Independent Review in to the very sad deaths of those people rough sleeping on our streets. This will aid our work to ensure that no stone is being left unturned in our aim to do everything in our power stop these types of tragedies happening again in our city.”
To report concerns about the welfare of anyone on the street ring: (0113) 245 9445 or email: leeds.SOS@cgl.org.uk
If you are at risk of becoming homeless contact Leeds Housing Options, ring: (0113) 222 4412 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This post is one of a series of articles about homelessness, hearing people’s real experiences of live on the streets and ‘sofa surfing’ and find out about services that are trying to help people in crisis.