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FAQs

Isn’t ending rough sleeping in London an aspiration, won’t there always be rough sleepers drawn to the Capital?
Sleeping rough is harmful and dangerous and there should be no place for it in a civilised city like London in the 21st century. Rough sleepers deserve, and need far more than just soup and sympathy. The Mayor’s work on this started in London in 2008 and is intended to bring a sustainable end to rough sleeping not just sweep people out of view and out of the capital. The GLA is leading on ending rough sleeping and ensuring no-one arriving new to the streets in London spends a second night out. Determined commitment to end rough sleeping across central, regional and local government, the Metropolitan Police and the voluntary sector is reflected in No Second Night Out changing from a pilot project to a commissioned service. No Second Night Out focuses on early intervention to prevent people from rapidly spiralling into a rough sleeping lifestyle, which increases a number of their support needs as a person’s health rapidly deteriorates.

Shouldn’t the aim be ‘no night out?
No Second Night Out works to prevent continued rough sleeping once someone is found to be in that difficult situation. Ideally we want to prevent people from having to get into that position to begin with. To that end the information and data gathered on new rough sleepers that come to No Second Night Out will be used to inform gaps in provision and highlight areas that could prevent people from ending up on the street in the first place.

Why is No Second Night Out only focusing on new rough sleepers? What about those that have been out for longer?
This project has been specifically designed to test approaches to reaching new rough sleepers and helping them leave the streets as quickly as possible. 60% of all rough sleepers contacted on the streets are seen by outreach teams for the first time. Other projects to tackle long term rough sleeping, or to reduce the number of people who return to rough sleeping after previously leaving it behind, are on-going and are provided by different agencies across London.

Why is London trying to send rough sleepers back to areas they have fled because they don’t feel safe there?
The project focuses on reconnecting and supporting people back to an area where they have more social capital and more chance of qualifying for accommodation. It must be emphasised, however, that people are not being forced back into a situation where they are being abused and from which they had been escaping. Stringent checks are made at the assessment hub to find out if people will be at risk if reconnected. Time is taken by the assessment and reconnection teams to ensure that relevant care/support is available back in someone’s home area, and the client is linked into these services. No one is ever reconnected back to an area to sleep rough.

Does reconnection actually work, isn’t it just moving people out of London?
About half of all the people that are bought to No Second Night Out are already connected to London. About 20% are from the rest of the UK and the remainders of people are from outside the UK, predominantly from EU country states. Hence much of the work No Second Night Out staff are engaged in is supporting people to link into accommodation in London. Most often this is not back to the place they were found to be rough sleeping.  Reconnection is never about pushing or forcing people out of London; it is a term used to illustrate the need to connect people into the services and support that they are eligible to receive in the first place. Much of the work done by No Second Night Out is to advocate for individuals to get  help and support from their local authority and in the case of non UK nationals, it is to ensure that they get the right advice and information about entitlements and support available. Our main aim is to assist people to exit rough sleeping. We believe that this activity is harmful and needs to be avoided.

Do you use the Vagrancy Act to get people to go indoors?
No Second Night Out works in partnership with outreach teams commissioned by local authorities; it does not have its own outreach service. All outreach team have referral rights into No Second Night Out. It is up to local authorities to determine which of the various powers available to them could usefully assist them in tackling rough sleeping. Many will continue with an assertive approach to outreach and some enforcement measures will continue to be used. We have seen many positive examples of how such an approach has been used to successfully help people get their lives back on track, and many former rough sleepers tell us that more assertive approaches helped them face up to the chronic situation they were stuck in.

Will Immigration Enforcement be removing European rough sleepers to help meet this new target?
People from the European Economic Area (EEA) who have been in the country for longer than three months have to be working, studying or self-sufficient in order to have a right to stay. If they are not, Immigration Enforcement can administratively remove them. Furthermore, if they have been involved in serious crime, they can be deported from the UK. In the last year, Immigration Enforcement has been exercising these powers in a number of areas around the UK, including some parts of London, where a small number of rough sleepers from EEA countries have been causing problems for the local community. Generally the preferred approach of local authorities is to assist EEA rough sleepers to return home voluntarily and a dedicated outreach team exists for this purpose, but where this offer is refused, Immigration Enforcement may take removal action as a last resort.

How will you find all the new rough sleepers in London quickly enough to meet the “no second night out” target that has been set? Surely this is impossible.
We believe that rough sleeping is harmful and dangerous and should not be seen as an acceptable situation for anyone. To help us contact new rough sleepers we require the public to be our eyes and ears on the street so we are asking residents, businesses and visitors to help us to reach rough sleepers quicker than we do already. A twenty-four hour rough sleeping referral phone line and website have been set up in order for people to report rough sleepers when they are seen on the street. This allows us to receive intelligence about where people are sleeping rough around the clock and make sure that an outreach worker can follow up on that intelligence and can offer to get that person to a place of safety as quickly as possible. The referral line is part of the StreetLink national reporting line.

What if people choose to sleep rough - isn’t it their right?
Rough sleeping is harmful and risky to individuals, often resulting in a deterioration of mental and physical health and well-being. Our challenge has been to create better choices for people, suited to their individual needs and preferences, so that people choose to take up the offers of support that are made. In most cases rough sleeping is inherently harmful to the person sleeping rough, and is likely to be an indicator of wider issues around need or a lack of entitlement.

What are the referral routes into the assessment hubs and how is it accessed?
Only agreed borough outreach teams, police and Safer Neighbourhood teams can refer directly into the assessment hubs. Anyone can ring the rough sleeping telephone line to report that someone is sleeping rough. Calling this phone line does not guarantee access into the hubs, however all intelligence is passed onto street teams in London 24/7. This phone line has added  to the options that already exist to refer rough sleepers into services, and to further encourage members of the public to report and make referrals about people they are concerned may be sleeping rough. Intelligence and referrals received are passed onto outreach teams immediately so that they can be investigated and a decision made as to whether the individual needs to access an assessment hub. This decision lies primarily with the outreach worker and is determined on whether the individual found is new to rough sleeping i.e. not been met before.

Isn’t No Second Night Out just a ‘golden ticket’ route into services?
People referred to the No Second Night Out hub are in no way prioritised by local authorities or fast tracked into temporary accommodation. We have evidence however that advocacy by NSNO staff makes a significant difference to an outcome for a client who had already approached their local authority. At times people have thought that by calling the rough sleeping reporting line they will be guaranteed access into accommodation; this is not true. Each person will be treated on a case by case basis and No Second Night Out will work closely with all parties concerned to ensure the best response based on each individuals needs and circumstances. There is no evidence to support claims that the service is a magnet for people to sleep rough, thinking they will get a faster service. 

What is the capacity of the hub and how long to people stay there?
The maximum capacity for the assessment hubs is around 25 people however it depends on the complexity of the client cases at the time, and how quickly a service offer can be made. Clients are sometimes put into emergency accommodation whilst they are awaiting a reconnection journey or a move into accommodation. The hub is not accommodation or a night shelter; it is a waiting area that is a place of safety off the street where someone can be brought to 24/7. The aim is for people to move on from the hub within 72 hours. The facilities are limited, the hubs are emergency holding areas and we try to ensure that everyone, including the person themself, treat the housing situation as urgent.

How does the assessment process work?
On arrival the assessment of needs and verification of information will begin. The verification of information within the hub can take some time and this depends on the level of engagement and complexity of the client presenting. It can take longer to fully understand the situation or complete the assessment because of the condition of the person or the complexity of the situation. Once completed we aim to provide an alternative and realistic option to rough sleeping, which in most cases is a reconnection back to support and services or accommodation in the home area where the person is eligible for services. Most often people are accompanied on a one to one basis to reconnect and staff play the main role of advocate. The assessment process is continuous and on going whilst the client is at the hub. However, the intention is that time spent at the hub is short and time limited and the aim is that all clients will be offered a realistic service offer. The single service offer is an offer of support ensuring that the person does not have to return to rough sleeping. It is a well researched offer based on factors such as the persons support needs, local connection, financial situation, UK status etc.

 

What about people with no recourse or very limited access to public funds?
A significant number of rough sleepers in London have limited access to public funds, with the biggest group within this number comprising of people from central and Eastern European states. The project works closely with existing reconnections services that specialise in supporting people from these countries to return home with dignity to some form of suitable accommodation. The project also works closely with the UK Border Agency.

What happens to clients who refuse or abandon the hub?
Outreach teams give a clear and consistent message that rough sleeping is dangerous and harmful and should be avoided at all costs. They explain that new rough sleepers found in London are accompanied to the NSNO assessment hub. If the person refuses to go or if a client attends the hub then abandons or refuses their single service offer, this is recorded on their CHAIN (Combined Homeless and Information Network) record which can be viewed by all teams and NSNO staff. If the client is met again through other services or on the streets the same SSO message is given and if taken up, they are worked with by the outreach team. Clients are not re-offered the hub or re-admitted into the hub if they have refused to attend or have abandoned. Depending on the timescale and individual client cases there are exceptions to this, for example if a client changes their decision within a few hours.

What happens if an accommodation solution isn’t found? Will people just be put back onto the street?
The assessment hub is intended as an emergency facility with a very short length of stay. Staff at the hub endeavour to find a solution to their rough sleeping within the shortest amount of time possible. If this is not possible and the individual is co-operating with the reconnections/accommodation process then further emergency accommodation is sought for them. If the person is not co-operating with the service offers that are made available then they are asked to leave the hub so that it does not become silted up with people who do not wish to make use of the options available to them.

What is the role of faith and community groups in the pilot?
Faith and community groups play an important role in ending rough sleeping in London. NSNO continuously seeks support from these groups in the delivery of the service, both in terms of providing resources and support at the assessment hubs and communicating the No Second Night Out message to rough sleepers and the public. In order to publicise the rough sleeping reporting line NSNO have printed posters which advertise the phone number and the website. These can be sent to faith and community groups as well as councils, libraries and businesses.
Members of the public can alert an outreach team about a rough sleeper via the reporting line. They can also apply to volunteer within the hub assisting with number of practical tasks. They are a vital resource at the hubs, engaging with our clients and contributing to supporting people away from the street. 

Are No Second Night Out opening up assessment hubs across the UK?
In November 2012 the government rolled out its ambition to end rough sleeping and for the rest of the UK to adopt the standards and principles of No Second Night Out. The London No Second Night Out project is unique to London and will not be expanding across the UK, however organisations across the UK have taken on board the NSNO principles and gold standards and are adopting ways of implementing these standards locally.  Homeless Link have published guidance on adopting the NSNO approach, and how services can adapt and change to ensure they have a rapid response to new rough sleepers in their city or region. Organisations can enter bids to the Homeless Transition Fund to be awarded funding for this service adaptation. In addition, the government expanded the London Rough Sleeping Reporting Line by creating a parallel nationwide rough sleeping reporting service called StreetLink.

 

What is the rough sleeping phone line?
The rough sleeping phone line was originally set up by Thames Reach’s London Street Rescue (LSR) team. It was set up to help LSR get reports of rough sleepers in the boroughs they covered across greater london. The LSR service response depended upon getting reports about people sleeping rough because of the wide geographic area the team has to cover. When No Second Night Out was launched in April 2011, the number was adopted as part of the pilot. Today the same single telephone nuber (0870 3833333) is being publicised and used across London to help the public to report rough sleeping when they see it. It is part of the overall No Second Night Out response. Calling the phone line does not guarantee a referral into the No Second Night Out project. The phone line takes reports of anyone sleeping rough, they will not necessarily be new to the street.

Why was the phone line extended and used by No Second Night Out?
Increased public reporting to the phone line will help increase the chances of getting to ‘new’ rough sleepers more rapidly, a public telephone line is also one way of increasing public awareness about rough sleeping and getting them to do something about it. No Second Night Out wants to increase the chance of new rough sleepers being met by outreach teams on the ground and having a public reporting line is one way this can be achieved. The sooner we know someone may be sleeping rough the quicker we can send a team to check it out.

Who uses the phone line?
All sorts of people use the phone line. It was set up to encourage members of the public to use it rather than ignore the fact that someone is sleeping rough and rather than the public dial 999. Currently public services such as the ambulance service and the police, report people when they see them on the street. People sleeping rough also use it to report themselves, taxi drivers, TFL staff, Day centre staff, general public who google what to do etc.
Many calls are from people who have not yet slept rough but are about to be made homeless or are at risk of sleeping rough for the first time. These calls can be challenging because this is not the purpose behind the service and it was not set up or resourced to provide in depth housing and prevention advice, but the phone operators do what they can to direct callers to services that are better suited to help in these situations.

Who answers the calls?
The service is currently operated by StreetLink. Their team cover answering the phone line 24/7 and are assisted by over 20 volunteers. The intention is for each call to be answered by a person rather than by an answering machine. When calls are directed to an answering machine it is because the staff are busy on another call. Because the line is 24/7 any messages get picked up quickly and the staff call back straight away.

What happens when you call the line?
You will be asked a number of questions about the report you would like to make. The main question will be the exact location of the person sleeping rough. This bit of information is the most crucial. Without it outreach teams cannot make contact with the individual sleeping rough. You will also be given a reference number that is unique to that referral, this is so if you call again we can look up the report that has been made and also provide feedback to you once the teams on the ground have investigated the report. We take a general description if you have one but do not need any personnel details of the individual. We do not expect the public to go and ask the person any questions, this is the job of the outreach team when they make contact on the street.

What happens to the information given?
All reports made to the phone line get passed onto outreach teams on the ground. These reports get passed on 24/7. Each borough has its own outreach team, where there is no dedicated outreach team London Street Rescue are funded to respond to reports of rough sleeping in those boroughs. No Second Night Out do not have any outreach teams of their own. The No Second Night Out rough sleeping phone line and StreetLink work in partnership and in a co-ordinated way with all the outreach services on the ground. Everyone involved is committed to responding rapidly to these reports and within 24hours. This is critical if we are trying to prevent new arrivals spending a second night out. More information on this and how outreach teams work in partnership with No Second Night Out can be found in the No Second Night Out outreach protocol.

Why is location so important?
The more detailed and accurate the information on the location of a sleeping site the easier it is for an outreach team to find the rough sleeper and the quicker they will be able to help them. In addition, the quicker the outreach teams are able to find each rough sleeper the more referrals they will be able to respond to while they are out on shift. Information on the location should be detailed enough to pinpoint exactly where the rough sleeper’s sleeping site is, not just their general whereabouts.

Will I get feedback about any referral I make?
Yes, as soon as the service receive a report back from the outreach team this gets recorded and the caller will be contacted to be given feedback about their referral. Often no contact has been made, however outreach teams will return on a number of occasions before the case is closed. In order to respect the confidentially of the rough sleeper the feedback given will be very general.

What happens if I make a referral for someone who is not new to the street?
About 60% of the time people sleeping rough are new to the street. However, there are a number of people who have been living on the street for some time or despite having accommodation, will appear to the public to be sleeping rough, eg people who beg or are street drinking. Any reports to the line will be dealt with in the same way and all reports are passed onto an outreach team. It is the outreach teams that determine what steps to take with an individual once they have met them. If they are new they are very likely to be brought to No Second Night Out. If they are known already to the team and other services, usually there is a plan in place that they will continue to follow that through. If they are not sleeping rough many outreach teams will try to link people in to support services to ensure that the person does not lose their accommodation. Only those identified as new rough sleepers can be bought to the No Second Night Out assessment hub.

How does the phone line link in with No Second Night Out assessment hub?
Calling the rough sleeping referral line does not mean a rough sleeper is being referred directly to No Second Night Out as the line takes reports for any rough sleepers in London. However, increased public reporting to the phone line increases the chances of helping ‘new’ rough sleepers more rapidly because all information received via the phone line is immediately passed onto outreach teams who then use it to target the location where the rough sleeper is reported to be sleeping. If the outreach teams find the rough sleeper and, after assessing their situation, conclude they are ‘new’ to the streets, they will explain that sleeping rough is dangerous and will offer them the opportunity to go to one of the NSNO Assessment Hubs to get off the street and work with Assessment and Reconnection workers to find a solution to their rough sleeping.

Are there other ways to report rough sleepers?
Many outreach teams and London boroughs have their own local ways of reporting rough sleepers and these are often publicised on the Internet, on billboards etc. This reporting line does not substitute for these but aims to compliment them to ensue there are as many routes as possible to report sightings of people sleeping rough.
Information on people sleeping rough in London can also be reported by filling in an on-line referral form which can be found on the ‘Help a Rough Sleeper’ page on the No Second Night Out website: http://www.nosecondnightout.org.uk/help-a-rough-sleeper/ or via the StreetLink website. This information is then processed in the same way as a call to the phone line. If you are using the on-line referral form to report a rough sleeper it is really important to give as much specific detail about the location of the sleeping site as possible as this gives the outreach team the best possible chance of locating and helping the rough sleeper.

Who should use the phone line?
Anyone who would like to help a rough sleeper should use the phone line to make a report. More information on services available to help rough sleepers or anyone at risk of rough sleeping can be found on the ‘Help a Rough Sleeper’ page of the No Second Night Out website: http://www.nosecondnightout.org.uk/help-a-rough-sleeper/