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Rough sleeping in Norwich: The facts
The report of the Trust’s “Contact, Assessment and Prevention Service” (locally known as the CAPS team) has been published. It covers the 12 month period to 31 March 2012.
The CAPS team comprised 3.5 caseworkers during the period under review. They were tasked to identify and find accommodation solutions for single homeless men and women who were rough sleeping in Norwich, or who had no fixed address, or who were at risk of becoming homeless. The team was based at the Trust’s 30-bed direct access hostel off Riverside Road, Norwich (Bishopbridge House). This location enabled the team to have daily conversations with the hostel’s staff about likely bed vacancies.
568 people used the CAPS service in the 12 month period. This meant that, on average, the team was dealing with 11 new clients every week. 98 people were verified by the team as sleeping rough on the streets of Norwich. However, 158 people claimed, when engaging with team members, they had slept rough on the previous night. In order to validate all these claims the team would have to conduct outreach searches every night.
Resources do not permit this number of outreach sessions – although the team typically conducted two night-time and one day-time outreach every week of the year building up a good level of intelligence about the number of people sleeping rough as a result. We can say with some confidence that between 98 and 158 people slept rough on the streets of Norwich in the 12 months up to 31 March 2012.
The CAPS team were successful in securing accommodation for 380 (65%) of the 586 people who used the service. This included 180 people who were found beds in hostels, predominantly in the Greater Norwich area. 100 of these 180 (or 26% of all the people who were helped to secure accommodation), were given a bed at the Trust’s own direct access hostel – Bishopbridge House.
Although 206 service users were not found accommodation this did not mean that the intervention of the CAPs team was necessarily a failure. The preventative role assigned to the team means that for a large proportion of this group the positive outcome of the intervention was the continuation of a tenancy. 22% of all service users referred themselves to the CAPS team. 29% were referred by “an advice agency” and 33% were referred by Norwich City Council. The reasons given by service users for their homelessness or imminent homelessness included:- “relationship breakdown” (32%); “left institution” - including prison - (16%); and eviction for anti-social behaviour or rent arrears (20%). 38% of all service users said they had spent the previous night “with a friend”. 27% said they had slept rough on the previous night. 28% said their last settled accommodation was “family and partners” whilst 28% and 16% said it was, respectively, private rented accommodation and social housing. 55% of all service users had a Norwich connection.
The team is acutely aware that it is not able to secure accommodation for everyone who uses the service. Nevertheless all the team’s principle targets for 2011/12 were met. During this period the team helped its funders – the three local authorities of Norwich City Council, Broadland Council and South Norfolk Council – provide an effective, efficient and economic service to meet the needs of almost 600 single adults who faced homelessness or extreme housing stress in the Greater Norwich area.