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The Mayor of London’s new homeless Hub saw more than 40 referrals in the weeks following its launch on 1 April, organisers have said.
The No Second Night Out (NSNO) scheme, which operates a 24-hour hub aimed at helping the recently homeless off the streets as quickly as possible, says that round 40 new people are seen sleeping rough in London each week.
“Currently, around half of all new rough sleepers go on to have a second (or third or fourth) night on the streets,” NSNO say on their website, which focuses on reconnection as a major part of its bid to make sure people are not forced to return to the streets.
Petra Salva, director of NSNO, stressed that it was people who had recently become homeless that would be referred to the Hub, rather than known rough sleepers. Speaking to The Pavement on 18 April, Salva said: “We have seen over 40 people so far, including women and people from the European Economic Union.
“People are brought into the hub by outreach workers who have made contact with them on the street,” she explained. Once referred, it has taken two to three days to find a solution or offer for most people, added Salva.
“This has included reconnection to home areas where we have helped people access supported housing placements, hostel accommodation and reconnection to family,” she said. “Some people have also received hospital treatment for physical or mental health concerns.”
Each case is followed up a week, a month and three months after they have left the Hub, which run from the same building as the Margery Street rolling shelter.
The NSNO scheme is part of Boris Johnson’s wider plan to end rough sleeping in the capital by the end of 2012 - and £710,000 was committed to the six-month pilot scheme in December last year.
It opened on 1 April but a second, formal launch will happen in early May, said Salva.
The Pavement spoke to Salva just before the Hub first opened, when she stressed that the service wasn’t about enforcement.
Instead, new rough sleepers can be referred though a number of different channels, including a helpline that NSNO will soon publicise across London. An outreach team will then assess any referrals to see if they qualify for support from the Hub.
NSNO said that it would also be “working closely” with the UK Border Agency (UKBA) but told The Pavement that no police or UKBA officials would be based at the Hub.
According to the NSNO website: “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, the UK Border Agency may take removal action as a last resort.” Addressing fears that funds might be siphoned from other schemes to support the Hub, NSNO said: “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 ongoing and not affected by this new pilot.” Visit nosecondnightout.org.uk for more information on the Hub.
• Of course, with any new service, it’s hard to find the other side of the story, so any individuals or organisations who have experience of NSNO or the hub, please get in touch - anonymously, if preferred - at email@example.com