ROUGH sleepers facing harsh winter conditions and cost-of-living challenges are being offered a helping hand.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and local councils from across the region have launched the annual Change into Action winter campaign to help locate people experiencing homelessness so they can be connected to support services and helped to move off the streets and into accommodation.
To raise awareness about this year’s campaign, West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, visited the Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham with Councillor Jayne Francis, Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for housing and homelessness, to hand out leaflets to stallholders, other businesses and shoppers.
The Mayor said: “Any rough sleeper is one too many, but in recent years we have made good progress in helping society’s most vulnerable – with the number of rough sleepers in the West Midlands now almost half what it was five years ago.
“This winter we are asking again that if people are in a position to do so then they continue supporting the campaign, so that together we can ensure there is a route off the streets for every single person who finds themselves there.”
Since its launch Change Into Action has received more than £280,000 from public donations which have helped provide much needed support and protection for those sleeping rough on the streets of the West Midlands as part of the year-round alternative giving campaign.
The money raised so far has supported around 750 individuals to move away from rough sleeping.
Change Into Action was launched as a pilot in Birmingham in 2017 and subsequently rolled out across Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, and Walsall, with Wolverhampton having a similar scheme called Alternative Giving CIO.
Part of the work of the WMCA’s Homelessness Taskforce, Change into Action is a regional alternative giving campaign, which encourages people to make an online donation rather than giving money to people asking for change on the streets.
Councillor Mark Parker, Solihull Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “In the last year we have prevented 370 households from becoming homeless and helped 614 people into long term housing.
“We have also been helped to provide additional grant support by donations to Change into Action Solihull.
“Recently we’ve awarded three grants to young people with a history of homelessness. These have covered the costs of furnishings and flooring, making their accommodation more homely and nicer places to live, helping to break the chain of rough sleeping.
“Our message continues to be – nobody needs to sleep rough, let’s work together to help homeless people. Please help us by reporting anyone you think is sleeping rough via StreetLink, the national reporting system, and supporting Change into Action Solihull if you are able.”
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