What’s the difference between rough sleeping and homelessness?

Rough sleeping is the most visible sign of homelessness. Sleeping rough is where someone is totally roofless and has to sleep out on the streets.

Some people are classed as homeless but have somewhere to stay – either in temporary accommodation, some of which is provided by the council, or with family and friends, sometimes known as ‘sofa surfing’.

Other people classed as homeless remain in their own home but need to move out because it is unsuitable, overcrowded or they can no longer live there. This can be for a number of reasons such as the landlord giving them notice or circumstances change which means they can no longer afford the rent.

How many people sleep rough in Sheffield?

The last official count of rough sleepers in Sheffield – reported to Government in December 2016 – showed 15 people sleeping rough. The numbers fluctuate at different times of the year and sometimes people will sleep on the street when they have a place to stay.

These people were counted by outreach teams from the city’s rough sleeper service who are in the city centre at night and early morning to find people and offer support.

Other people beg for money on the streets in Sheffield but have got somewhere to stay and are not sleeping rough. Some are involved in other street activities such as drinking.

It is important that help is offered to all these people. This is provided by lots of different organisations in the city working together.

How many people are begging in Sheffield?

A recent survey in Sheffield counted 189 individuals begging over a 6 month period. All of the people on the list were known to services in Sheffield. Offers of accommodation and other support, such as medical treatment, were made if appropriate to do so. Many had existing accommodation though not all were using their accommodation.


Are people who beg homeless?

Not necessarily.

South Yorkshire Police previously spoke to 37 people who were begging in Sheffield and all but 8 had accommodation. Outreach workers can help those who don’t have somewhere to stay.

A survey in Sheffield found most people begging in the city centre had somewhere to stay.

Does giving money help or hinder people?

People who beg need support and giving money to them doesn’t help them to get or use the support on offer. There is a real concern that if people are begging it is less likely that they will seek support to live a better life.

Many campaigns to support people who beg give a very clear message that giving money is helping someone to die prematurely. The reason they make this claim is that the few published surveys on what money from begging is spent on all say that begging funds drug use. At the same time those begging often withdraw from medical and rehabilitation support leading to a downward spiral of poor health and low motivation to live a better life.

In Sheffield most agencies working with homeless people and those who beg agree that giving money directly to someone on the street is unhelpful.

Our advice is to give to a charity that helps people make long-term, positive changes.

What do people spend the money on?

Different people spend money on different things, and it’s not possible to know this. But giving to the charities who help people who are homeless and or/begging means you know where your money will be spent.


Why do immigrants take priority over local people? 

They don’t. Everyone’s housing needs are assessed the same way. Read Sheffield City Council’s housing allocations policy.


What help is there for prison leavers?

People are offered support during their sentence if they have issues with drugs and alcohol. This includes support and substitute-prescribing, offered by recovery teams who will begin planning for someone’s support needs on release.

Prison leavers are asked if they would like to be referred to a substance misuse service in the community. If this is accepted, they will be offered a gate pick-up on the day of their release, as well as continued substitute-prescribing and accommodation on release.

Ongoing support will be offered including tenancy support, accompanying someone to appointments, assisting with benefits and one-to-one sessions. In Sheffield, this support is provided by Addaction.

Prison leavers: contact Addaction if you have any questions or need further support.  You do not need this to be arranged by prison or probation officers.  Addaction also help people who refer themselves.

Support is also offered to people leaving prison who do not have substance misuse issues. This is provided via the National Probation Service or a community rehabilitation company.

How do you refer into treatment services?

People can refer themselves into drug and alcohol services or go through their GP or another professional.

 

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