‘The campaign has allowed Torbay to re-energise its attempts to end homelessness and has widened its work beyond the usual suspects’ – Stuart Bakewell, Westward Housing and Support, Torbay
‘It (the survey) gave me a voice, people can listen, people will have to listen because of the survey. This gives you the confidence and the courage to ask for help. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done’ – Croydon resident who was formerly street homeless
‘We were very surprised to see that some of the people we met had (university) degrees, some people go to the library every day, they had never imagined they would be in this situation.’ – Campaign volunteer, Barcelona
The ultimate aim of the campaign is to find sustainable homes for vulnerable people sleeping on the streets.
Local people in each city firstly work together to ensure they have comprehensive knowledge of who is street homeless and what each person needs or wants. Most city campaigns launch with what we call a ‘Connections Week’ – where local people who volunteer their time are trained and go out on to the streets to meet and speak with people sleeping there.
These conversations help the local community to learn from those living on the street about what needs to change. They then draw up a plan about how to go about making these changes in their area. This can include influencing the media, local policy makers and others.
In each city, those experiencing homelessness, those working in homelessness and local people work together to find homes for those who are sleeping on the streets. Many current homeless strategies work to a model where people move from the streets into various temporary accommodations. They are usually not able to move into a permanent home until they meet certain conditions and people often find themselves back on the streets again.
Our campaign believes in a Housing First approach. Housing First is where people sleeping on the streets are offered a suitable, permanent home with support if it is needed. Rigorous evidence from different countries has shown that this is more effective in helping people to sustain permanent housing than the current model. Campaign cities consider how they can pilot, adopt or expand a Housing First approach.
We began working with Croydon, Valencia, Westminster and Barcelona in 2015 as four pilot cities. After holding successful Connections Weeks in 2016, they continue to mobilise the community for change. Barcelona and Croydon both completed a second Connections Week in 2017.
More recently, Alicante, Brighton, Brussels, Glasgow, Leicester and Torbay joined the campaign. In 2017 Torbay and Brussels have already completed their Connections Weeks. Alicante, Brighton and Leicester are all planning theirs for November this year.
After only a matter of months, Torbay has seen some early successes, with 8 people moving from the streets into accommodation following their Connections Week.
You can find out more in the video below and on the BSHF Twitter.