Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Second phone count

March 09 2011
Our second snapshot of provision in London

Last year, The Pavement conducted its own snapshot 'street count' (London edition) using a phone and a notebook. This year we're repeating the exercise; calling every cold weather shelter in London to find out how many rough sleepers stayed with them on 13 January.

The idea is to discover how many people would have been on the streets had it not been for cold weather or winter shelters, which councils are obliged to open in sub-freezing temperatures under the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP).

While choosing the same date means we can easily compare this year's figures with last year's, the temperature on 13 January 2011 was above freezing, so many shelters were closed. Last year the figures added up to 348 - 80 more than this year's total (268) - a considerable 114 of which constituted St Mungo's SWEP provision, which was no longer in place by 13 January this year. Nevertheless, the figures still demonstrate the continued high demand for winter shelters.

In view of this, it is significant to note that many councils are increasingly reluctant to fulfil their SWEP obligations. In December, Jenny Edwards, Chief Executive of Homeless Link, said: "we are concerned to hear of some reluctance to implement arrangements that could save lives because of cuts. While we understand the current pressures on local budgets, we do not accept this is an area that can be cut."

One positive development, however, is the improvement in official street counts. Last year our figures dwarfed official figures for the number of rough sleepers in London by 85 (348 compared to 263). On 17 February this year, the Department for Communities and Local Government issued 'experimental statistics' for the amount of rough sleepers in London in Autumn 2010, which total 415-147 more than our rough figures. Presumably this is down to the new street count guidelines, as covered in the October 2010 issue of The Pavement.

However, these statistics are still a long way off the figures published by some homeless charities. St Mungo's, for instance, reported 1,549 people sleeping rough in London between July and September last year, with a further 919 contacted on the streets (Predicted rise for 2011, February 2011, all editions).

The telephone count 2011
999 Club: 15
Barnet Churches: 10
Branches (Waltham Forest): 32
Bromley 5000 Project: 15
Caris Islington Churches: 18
C4WS: 14
Croydon Churches: 14
Ealing Churches: 12
GrowTH Night Shelter: 11
Hackney: 25
Haringey Churches: No response
Harrow Firm Foundation: 9
Hillingdon: Shelter closed
Kingston Churches: 12
Quaker Christmas: Shelter closed
Route 18: 33
St Mungo's: Shelter closed
The Robes Project: 11
West London Churches: 37
Whitechapel Mission: Shelter closed
Total: 268