07 March 2017
The statement below is in response to some social media and articles about how we work with non UK people sleeping rough.
Our Outreach teams go out day and night to work with anyone who is sleeping rough and offer the right support to help people off the streets and to rebuild their lives.
At St Mungo’s we recognise that these solutions involve housing, but also, crucially, services for physical and mental health, substance misuse treatment, skills and work.
The starting point for our work is the belief that sleeping on the streets is dangerous and harmful to people’s health, regardless of where you are from. People can have complex situations and we would always work with each person with dignity and respect to help them move away from the street for good.
Working with non UK nationals
We do not share information about people to the Home Office, except when an individual has given their consent, or in situations where people are at risk. We think leaving a vulnerable person to die on the streets is unacceptable. The average age of death of someone who’s been homeless is 47, for women, 43.
People not from the UK may not have entitlements to any benefits. This can result in complex situations for them with no access to housing or support services, which in turn results in long term rough sleeping which is harmful and dangerous.
Our outreach teams are commissioned by local authorities. If they are working with non UK nationals sleeping rough they would first ensure that people understand their rights and entitlements, including, where feasible, assistance to take up options in the UK like work and housing.
If the person is vulnerable, teams would look to offer appropriate support in the UK where that is an option, or in the person’s home country where this is not an option.
Where local authorities or the Home Office decide to take action against individuals or groups who are sleeping rough, we do work with them in order to ensure that people who are vulnerable get the help that they need. Our role here is about advocacy and safety.
The stark reality is that without any intervention people would remain destitute and at real risk of harm on the streets.
Partnership working is key in helping people to move away from the streets, recover their lives and not return to rough sleeping. We work with migrant charities, domestic abuse organisations, health services, probation services, the police, local authorities and many others.
We are reviewing our approach across our outreach teams to ensure that we are operating to good practice in every area.
If you are concerned about someone sleeping rough, please contact the national referral service StreetLink at www.streetlink.org.uk to help connect them with local services.