We Want a Homelessness Service that Works

We Want a Homelessness Service that Works

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Fiona Goldie started this petition to Carlisle city council

Homelessness services in Carlisle need amending so that they do not exclude the most vulnerable in their time of need.

We the undersigned demand that Carlisle City Council:

  1. Open a Direct Access Hostel (or alternative direct provision of shelter through a network of B&Bs, hotels etc) as a matter of urgency.
  2. Provide 'Out of Hours' homelessness support to complete the paperwork that enables people to access the hostels.
  3. Understand that homeless people will likely have difficult social issues which have led to their predicament, and therefore these issues should not be used against them as a barrier to shelter.
  4. Design a Response Service which does not automatically lead to criminalisation/arrest, but which provides welfare assistance and advocacy.
  5. Ensure that this response service understands that people in a homeless crisis will be overwhelmed by their situation, and will need support to engage with the authorities. Some people are hard to help...we need to work harder to help them.

Access to the existing hostels is limited outside of working hours, simply because there is no one available to complete the necessary paperwork- a risk assessment must be carried out before any individual is admitted. We request that a system be set up to complete this paperwork and facilitate access 24/7.

Homelessness does not normally occur at the convenient time of Monday-Friday 9am-4pm. It happens 'out of hours'. It happens at weekends. It happens at Bank Holidays and Christmas breaks. Carlisle has no Direct Access Hostel. Homeless people are told they must wait until Monday (or beyond), further adding to their distress and disenfranchisement. We want 24/7 homelessness support.

Often, people in crisis cannot manage the additional effort of reaching out for help. We need to build a support system that makes accessing shelter as easy as possible. Currently, those in the most desperate situations find they must jump through numerous hoops in order to gain assistance and this extra pressure alienates those most in need, in effect pushing them away from the means to resolve things. From the perspective of a person in distress, there is no conjoined approach from the authorities- they are just pushed from pillar to post until they eventually 'drop out' and are then deemed to have not really wanted help in the first place. 

The current system misrepresents this behaviour as ‘non-engagement’ or ‘their choice’, when in fact, the person in need lacks the skills, knowledge, confidence or stamina to manage appointments and diaries on top of eviction, debt, abuse, mental health concerns or addiction. If someone is an alcoholic, for instance, telling them to come back when they are sober will not bring them back tomorrow, but compound their sense of rejection. We want a homelessness service for the city that understands the obstacles people experience.

Often, the only people who respond to the public's calls for help with homelessness are the police. They are not the appropriate authority to be resolving this issue; they are designed to find crime, not offer social support. They may arrest the homeless person for being aggressive/wasting police time/disturbing the peace/substance use, and while this may temporarily bring shelter in the cells, it does not solve the problem long term, leading only to greater distress and a criminal record. The police may have their place in responding to incidents of homelessness and rough sleeping, but they should not be the first port of call. We want an urgent response system that seeks to resolve problems, not criminalise them.

Carlisle is not a big city. We are not inundated with homelessness. We can manage this situation effectively and more sensitively to minimise the negative impact on our citizens and communities. Let Carlisle be a guiding light to other authorities nationally; a proactive local authority with a homelessness service that values those it seeks to assist and refuses to exclude them.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 50,000!
At 50,000 signatures, this petition becomes one of the top 2% on Change.org in the UK!