The eradication of Rough Sleeping is an issue of national importance and it is accepted by Both Sides of the House that even one person sleeping rough on the streets of England is one too many.
People literally risk their lives by sleeping in public spaces not designed or suitable for human habitation. There is no single reason why people sleep rough; they are often struggling with a series of difficult and overlapping challenges including mental illness, drug and / or alcohol misuse, offending histories and chaotic relationship breakdowns. The aim of the 2020 Initiative is to provide suitable long-term accommodation and pastoral support to prevent a return to the streets.
Sleeping rough is dangerous and seriously detrimental to a person’s physical and mental health. Aside of the deprivation that rough sleepers experience, they are also prone to being victims of crimes including physical violence and in the case of women rough sleepers reoccurring sexual assault. As a result of the experiences and constant fear of rough sleepers, many of those who sleep rough develop deep-rooted drug and alcohol addictions; and develop mental health problems. They also struggle to access the support services they need, so issues often remain undetected until they become untreatable.
The life expectancy of someone sleeping rough is far lower than average and even those people who sleep rough for only a few months are likely to die younger. Research has shown the effectiveness of the provision of permanent housing combined with support services for rough sleepers. The 2020 initiative seeks to reverse the circle of complex needs for rough sleepers by offering, in addition to support, decent permanent accommodation and a holistic approach that seeks to address all the causes and consequences of sleeping rough.
We take a multi-agency approach to helping people who are sleeping rough, developed by more than 30 local groups, services and organisations, including charities, health professionals, support providers, faith groups and Local authorities. Regardless of their past, or the challenges they may have faced, by the provision of accommodation and support the 2020 Initiative actively encourages people who are sleeping rough to leave the streets. We provide them with the ability to self empower, in order that they may achieve social inclusion and financial independence.