Joint statement on collaborative work to help people sleeping rough
Northampton Borough Council, Northampton Hope Centre and Churches Together in Northampton (20 June 2019)
As many will be aware, there have been tensions and disputes in recent years between Northampton Borough Council (NBC) and the voluntary and community sector in the town relating to how we address the challenges of rough sleeping and associated issues.
These conflicts have been the cause of regret for many of those involved. Collaborative approaches are vital when it comes to helping people affected by homelessness. We acknowledge that the disputes have damaged the effectiveness of all of our efforts to help rough sleepers. The public nature of conflict has also been painful and difficult for those involved and has, at times, obscured the excellent work that has been on-going.
Recently, out of a shared commitment to move to build a more collaborative approach, representatives from key parties have met together in a series of meetings facilitated by Homeless Link and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). Participants in these meetings have been Robin Burgess and Tara Scarth from the Hope Centre, Phil Harris, Emma Forbes and Cllr Stephen Hibbert from NBC, and Father Oliver Coss as the Chair of Churches Together.
We are glad to say that these meetings have been productive. The issues of tension and difficulty have been acknowledged and significant time has been spent listening to the perspective of others. We acknowledge that each of the agencies, whether statutory, voluntary or the faith and community groups, are passionate about ending the tragedy of rough sleeping. We each have a role to play and must work together better.
We are hopeful that the meetings offer significant promise for an improved collaboration in the town on this critical issue. Specifically, we have committed to:
- Reviewing and updating the Rough Sleeping Strategy in a co-produced way with the voluntary and community sector
- Developing a new Single Homelessness Forum with an independent Chair, working to an agreed terms of reference
- Ensuring that the new funds to address rough sleeping granted to NBC by MHCLG are used to build collaborative approaches
- Regular meetings between key parties to discuss progress and maintain strong communication
- Meeting to review progress in 6 months with MHCLG and Homeless Link
Rough sleeping and homelessness is a challenge for the whole of the community. Each of us has a role to play: council, charities, churches and other faith groups and as members of our community.
We acknowledge that no one comes off the streets due to the sole work of just one organisation – it is always a partnership between different agencies which makes a difference.
Our shared commitment is to forge a strategy and approach which can bring together all our contributions in a collective effort focussed on helping people sleeping rough to come off the streets and into accommodation.
Phil Harris, Emma Forbes and Cllr Stephen Hibbert
Northampton Borough Council
Robin Burgess & Tara Scarth
Northampton Hope Centre
Father Oliver Coss
Co-Moderator of Churches Together in Northampton