Public support urged for rough sleepers’ ‘life-line’
A new £12,000 campaign to get fast and effective support to people who find themselves sleeping rough.
Framework, which works across the East Midlands, says a groundbreaking telephone hotline it launched in November 2011 is helping it to get vulnerable people off the streets faster than ever before. It is now calling for public support to help keep the line open 24 hours a day.
The line, operated across most of Nottinghamshire* and throughout Lincolnshire, has been receiving an average of seven calls a day – a number that has risen to around 25 in extreme circumstances. In Nottingham it has played a significant role in bringing down the level of rough sleeping at a time when figures are rising nationally.
Jason Marriott, leader of Framework’s Street Outreach Team, explained: “This hotline has become an absolutely vital tool for us because it helps us to target our support more effectively than ever before.
“The calls we get come from a variety of sources, including members of the public, the police, hospitals, local authorities and other charities, but the most effective calls of all come from the people we are trying to help – those who are actually sleeping rough or are at immediate risk of doing so.
“All in all this the hotline provides a single point of help for anybody who wants to prevent people sleeping rough. It is vital that this hotline is kept open 24 hours a day. After all, rough sleeping is not a nine-to-five problem.”
Framework acts upon every call it receives, offering advice or arranging help, shelter and resettlement opportunities at the earliest possible juncture. It estimates that each call costs around £5 (based on running costs and resulting actions) and wants to raise a further £12,000 to fund this vital work.
Joshua**, 18, who slept rough for several days after his mum kicked him out, is just one of hundreds of people to have benefited from the hotline. He explained: “I had stayed with friends for a few days but after that I really had nowhere to go. Before I knew it I was sleeping rough around the Market Square. I had seen homeless people before in town but I never thought I would find myself in that predicament. It was just a huge shock to me.
“I asked for help from so many different places but I kept being told the same thing: that I was an adult and that there wasn’t much they could do for me...when I called Framework’s hotline they were fantastic. A guy came down straight away and met me within 20 minutes. He said he would help me and he did. First he got me into a temporary night shelter and then he helped me to get a place at Framework’s London Road hostel. As it turned out that was probably the most important call I have ever made.
“I was lucky that I only had to sleep rough for a week – but it was a horrible experience I don’t want to repeat.”
Jo Cox-Brown, chief executive of the Malt Cross Trust and founder of the Nottingham Street Pastor Service, explained: “I remember last winter that there was a young man before the number was introduced. He was so cold and desperate that he cried into my arms and I just felt powerless...
“That’s why the Rough Sleeper Hotline is so important; because I know that there is always someone to call 24 hours a day who can help. If the number was not there I think a lot of people would find themselves powerless to help. Above all this is more than a phone line. It is a lifeline that I believe everybody should support.”
James, who was also helped off the streets by Framework, added: “I went to a few places to get help but was told over and over again that I wasn’t entitled to it. It was then that I was given the number for the Framework. Phoning that number really helped me a lot and it is really important that it is maintained for other people to use. I was a guy who was down on his luck who didn’t know where to turn for help. To be honest I had no idea this kind of help existed. It really helped me and I know it can help other people in the future.”
*Framework’s Street Outreach Team currently has resources in place to respond to calls in Nottingham City, Mansfield and across South Nottinghamshire. Callers from other areas will be given all possible advice and guidance but may not receive a visit from a team member.
**Joshua has asked that we change his name to protect his identity