Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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A rough expansion

September 08 2010
Growing number of homeless A10s accessing W Midlands services

Within the Government's strategy (2008) to end rough sleeping by 2012, the high number of migrants who are rough sleeping is acknowledged along with the rapid downward spiral that can lead to destitution and life on the streets. Research conducted by Homeless Link in November 2008 showed that out of those rough sleeping in London, 25 per cent were from A10 countries (accession states in Eastern Europe), a seven per cent increase from the previous year.

Despite the focus on the capital city, similar problems are present across the country. During a survey carried out in early 2009, 14 per cent of local authorities in England highlighted that a high proportion of rough sleepers are A10 nationals. The West Midlands being one of the predominate regions where this is the case. Indeed, a significant proportion of A10 nationals are accessing homeless services in Birmingham, evidence of the widespread problem.

Birmingham-based homeless charities have started to monitor the number of migrants accessing their services. St Martin's Helpdesk found that in the last year, Eastern Europeans made up nine per cent of their service users, over 60 per cent of those being Polish, though there has been an increase in Latvians in recent months. Similarly, in April 2010, seven per cent of service users at SIFA Fireside were Eastern Europeans, with the overwhelming majority from the A8 countries, especially Poland.

With the help of translators, SIFA Fireside is researching the specific needs of this migrant group in the hope to provide more specialist support, like those commissioned in London by BARKA, which provides opportunities for social integration and reconnection.