Day centres - the frontline to end rough sleeping

Thursday, 19 February 2015 - 9:40am

Often seen as operating on the fringe of the homelessness sector, day centres can and often do play a vital role in tackling rough sleeping. A new handbook highlights ways that many day centres are making the most of their unique position in local efforts to end rough sleeping.

Photograph: The Spires day centre, London

Having a home is fundamental to our success in society, without it we fail to thrive or reach our potential. Not having a home is a marker of how we as a society think about those who are most vulnerable and excluded.

However, the nature of services is changing and the perception of and the public value that they create is being challenged. Welfare reform, funding changes, increased localisation and changing demographics have produced significant challenges to the way we work. While these changes are often seen as threats to the way that services are commissioned and provided, they also provide opportunities to rethink how, as homelessness services, we create public value for the people we serve and for the wider population.

Unrestrained by contracts they can be innovative and inventive in the support they offer.

Day centres have an opportunity to be at the heart of this change. They offer flexible community responses that offer genuine support, regardless of the funding environment.

They are often small organisations, therefore able to be deft of foot in the way they work with individuals. Unrestrained by contracts they can be innovative and inventive in the support they offer.

Crucially, they are local community organisations. As services and the sector change, this will become increasingly important.

There is a risk though. Small organisations reliant on the generosity of their local communities can struggle to develop capacity to design services effectively, falling back on traditional offers of limited support such as food and showers, instead of thinking how this allows them to reach into the heart of communities and tackle the real issue of homelessness and rough sleeping.

That is why we have published Ending Rough Sleeping: a handbook for day centres, which we hope will help to counter that and keep day centres at the heart of practical community efforts to end rough sleeping.

It is the culmination of the hard work of many day centres, working us, to understand and then share approaches that work.

By promoting new solutions and partnerships, we hope this will be a timely resource to provide insight into what day centres such as The Booth Centre in Manchester and the York Road Project in Woking are already doing in practice, and what you could join them.

Making the difference to end rough sleeping - a handbook for day centres

This handbook highlights ways that many day centres are making the most of their unique position in local efforts to end rough sleeping.

Downloads

Making the difference: How day centres are helping to tackle rough sleeping 2014

This guide explains how, by working closely with day centres, councils and other agencies can ensure that no opportunity to help someone sleeping rough is wasted.

Downloads

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Will Baldwin

Will Baldwin

Good Practice Officer at Homeless Link until April 2015

Will was the practice lead for Homeless Link's Day Centres project until April 2015.