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National Homeless Advice Service

Newcastle Street Zero Partnership

Posted by natalie_pearson November 13, 2019

Rough sleeping is an issue which has grown significantly in importance over recent years. The key reasons for this have been well-rehearsed elsewhere: from intensifying drug and alcohol addiction; through increasing mental health problems; to changes in access to welfare benefits. Here in Newcastle we have been highly effective in helping people to avoid becoming homeless, through programmes such as our Homelessness Prevention Trailblazer. But our regular counts of people sleeping rough clearly show that the problem has worsened significantly over recent years.

In an attempt to get to grips with this issue, the Street Zero Partnership was formed in the city in 2018. Street Zero brings together a range of stakeholders, from Northumbria Police and the NHS, through to the City Council and frontline service providers. A central part of the work of the Partnership is to identify new and innovative ways that we can work together to reduce - and eventually eradicate - rough sleeping in Newcastle by 2022. The main way in which we do this is through our Rough Sleeping Learning Framework. This Framework draws in a wide range of data and information from a broad range of different sources. This might include individual case reviews, which chart the biographies of specific people who have an experience of sleeping rough. Or it may include specific research that we commission or develop ourselves within the Partnership to try and better understand the systems within which rough sleeping happens. The framework then utilises this information to identify recommendations for the Partnership Board as to how service delivery might be reconfigured to help end rough sleeping.

An example of how the framework has been developing so far is around the approach that the Partnership takes to the issue of begging. Rough sleeping and begging in Newcastle are closely interconnected. But we do not know exactly what that relationship is for all of the individuals concerned. So the Partnership is currently utilising the learning framework to collect the relevant data on this in the city. Once this data has been collected, it will be analysed by the Learning Framework Sub Group of the Street Zero Partnership Board. And any appropriate policy recommendations will be put before the Board for consideration and implementation. These various appropriate changes in policy and practice will then be formally monitored by the Sub Group to assess whether they have had the desired impact. These additional findings will then be used to further improve the responses of stakeholders to both begging and rough sleeping in the City. And over time, we anticipate that these changes will make a significant difference to our approach to rough sleeping in the City.

The learning framework is still at a relatively early stage of development. But it is already showing signs of significantly improving partnership working across the City. And whilst it is early days, the results to date give us confidence that we will achieve our mission of ending rough sleeping in Newcastle all together by 2022.

If you’d like to find out more about Newcastle’s Street Zero Partnership click here.

By Aidan Oswell, Senior Active Inclusion Officer Newcastle City Council