Catherine McGuinness: City focus is on solving complex issue of homelessness

Catherine McGuinness

At the City of London Corporation we are proud of how we support our homeless and rough sleeping community.

As many residents will know, we have a dedicated sub-committee which works closely with expert partners including St Mungo’s to help rough sleepers transition into safe and permanent accommodation.

Our focus is to help them improve and deal with some of the very complex issues which all too often play a part in keeping them on the streets.

Readers may have seen that the Government recently announced it would give almost £1 million to keep a City youth hostel operating until the spring.

The services at the hostel are provided by Providence Row Housing Association.

The funding is part of a £91.5m funding pot for councils in England to ensure interim accommodation and support offered for homeless people during the pandemic can continue.

In May – at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic – we opened the 45-bed site to provide a safe place for homeless people in the Square Mile.

The YHA hostel, located on Carter Lane, is staffed 24/7 in line with social distancing guidance and offers alcohol and drug support services to its residents.

Since it opened, the hostel has provided life-changing support to homeless people in the City, offering a safe place to stay for some of our most vulnerable members of the community.

Rough sleeping rates in the City have fallen dramatically since the site opened its doors, from up to 50 a day, down to around 15.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge financial, social and mental impact on society.

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And as we head towards a potential second wave of the virus and the winter months, this funding will maintain a service that is playing a vital role in keeping people safe and helping them to transform their lives.

We are committed to helping people to get off the streets and minimising the negative impacts of homelessness on rough sleepers themselves, and on City residents, workers, businesses and visitors.

We know that rough sleeping is the most acute and visible form of homelessness, and an issue that remains a challenge not only in the Square Mile, but right across London.

Our priority is the safety and security of our rough sleeping and homeless population. Every single person has the right to feel protected.

The Carter Lane youth hostel provides a safe, warm and supported place for them during this exceptionally difficult time.

Meanwhile, the City Corporation has announced a new provider for its Rough Sleeping Outreach Service, which helps people living on the streets find accommodation and supports them with any issues they face.

From November, the service will be provided by the charity Thames Reach and will bring an increased focus on long-term rough sleepers with complex needs.

The whole country is living in uncertain and unprecedented times, and together with our partners we are doing everything we can to safeguard our rough sleepers and homeless residents.

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