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Concerns about Mayor’s homeless hub

June 08 2011
NSNO is creating a two-tier homeless hierarchy, say critics

 

The No Second Night Out (NSNO) scheme and its “homeless hub” have been accused of creating a “two-tier” homeless hierarchy. The London scheme is part of London’s plans to end rough sleeping by 2012, and aims to get new rough sleepers off the streets as soon as possible

An anonymous source told The Pavement that some of London’s most entrenched rough sleepers were losing out because of the scheme, which is designed to help those new to the streets.

“There has been no additional provision of beds, there’s no new housing, no new schemes - so where are all these people going?” he asked.

Our source, who wished to remain unnamed, added: “What’s going to happen to the unwanted homeless, those people with the biggest problems and the biggest need? At the moment, they are being pushed to the back of the line.”

But Petra Salva, director of NSNO, dismissed the claims, saying that “very few people had been sent to shelters from the hub - most people have been reconnected”.

Our source also questioned how effective a scheme with a turnaround of just three days could be. “Much of the NSNO is focused on ‘reconnection’, or sending people back to where they came from. But people leave for a number of reasons - violence, abuse etc.

“Outreach teams put in a lot of time to reconnect someone. How much can be done in three days?”

More than 130 people have passed through the hub since it opened on 1 April, said Salva, with around 60 per cent of these being “successfully reconnected”, something she defines as “no longer sleeping rough”.

The remaining 40 per cent left the hub “unsuccessful”, and the NSNO doesn’t know what has happened to them since.

Demand for the hub has been high, said Salva, though the NSNO had underestimated users’ needs. For example, around 70 per cent of those seen by the hub have medium- to high-support needs because of drug use or mental health issues.

“We are coping,” she said. “But do we need a different approach or more resources? So far, the jury’s out.”

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