Council claim rough sleeping in Doncaster town centre has reduced by 70 per cent in one year

Doncaster Council has claimed rough sleeping in the town centre has declined by 70 per cent in just one year.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 6th August 2019, 5:05 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th August 2019, 6:43 pm
Two men pictured in 2018 thought to be under the influence of synthetic cannabinoid Spice in Doncaster town centre. Picture: Marie Caley/Doncaster Free Press
Two men pictured in 2018 thought to be under the influence of synthetic cannabinoid Spice in Doncaster town centre. Picture: Marie Caley/Doncaster Free Press

The Complex Lives team, who are made up of several public sector partners like the NHS, are currently working to support 122 very vulnerable people with complex needs who were all previously rough sleeping.

Now 100 of these people are said to be in some form of accommodation being supported by key workers and ‘personalised wrap around support plans’.

Council bosses say this includes support with drug and alcohol misuse, physical and mental health, offending behaviours, Job Centre appointments and court appearances.

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A man pictured begging in Doncaster town centre in 2017. Picture: Marie Caley/Doncaster Free Press

Doncaster Council, under massive public pressure to tackle issues like open drug taking, begging, rough sleeping and anti-social behaviour, set up the Complex Lives service which went on to a local government award.

The ‘Complex Lives Alliance’ teams of professionals from Doncaster Council, South Yorkshire Police, St Leger Homes, Community and Acute NHS Trusts, Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, which includes Aspire, the drug and alcohol service, Primary Care Doncaster, NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Criminal Justice, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and community, voluntary and faith organisations, who work together to identify and support people off the streets.

Resident Chris Nowak from Scawthorpe - who recently questioned Mayor Ros Jones on why the same people were consistently begging in Doncaster town centre – welcomed the announcement but took the figure with some caution.

"Issues around rough sleeping and begging remain in Doncaster town centre. There is still a visible problem and it’s not gone away.

Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones. Picture: Dean Atkins/Doncaster Free Press

“I welcome any reduction in getting people help but the council and others should not rest on their laurels because there is still people begging.”

A variety of key figures who are part of the Complex Lives Alliance lined up to welcome the council statistic.

Complex Lives lead for Doncaster Council, Pat Hagan, said: “Rough sleepers often have a combination of issues to tackle including homelessness, drug and alcohol misuse, mental and physical ill health and offending behaviour but working as a coordinated partnership means they don't have to deal with various different services.

“They're building relationships that get to the bottom of people’s complex needs and helping those sleeping rough achieve some stability.

South Yorkshire Police Doncaster-based Chief Inspector Jayne Forrest

“Our aim is to reduce rough sleeping to zero, but we know we can experience spikes and we have to be clear that in the light of the everyday challenge we face, this is not a task and finish job, but a long term mission.”

Chief Inspector Jayne Forrest, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “The success this action plan has had in the 12 months since it was put in place shows just how crucial it is to take a partnership approach where key issues such as rough sleeping are concerned.

“Since we introduced a dedicated Neighbourhood Policing Team for the central Doncaster area, our officers have made great progress in getting to know the local community – both residents and business owners. Rough sleeping was high on their agenda in terms of concerns and that is why we’ve made this partnership a priority.”

Doncaster mayor, Ros Jones said: “We have an ambitious vision for our town centre with some elements already achieved and others underway and we have every reason to be positive about its future. However, the investment we are putting into Doncaster Town Centre isn’t just bricks and mortar, it’s about changing people’s lives."

Doncaster Council's Complex Lives lead Pat Hagan