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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

About 8 police searching the homeless people this morning as I cycled past.

I don't know if there intention was to move them on. Hopefully the raid was a precursor to giving them some support.

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I wondered the same but had to leave before I could ask.

They also had council staff with them who were throwing part of the belongings into a bin lorry (though from what I could see it was actually rubbish).

But by the time I returned they were completely gone.

I noticed a tweet from one of the Harringay councillors yesterday which may explain it:

I must say that I feel decidedly undecided about this whole situation with rough sleepers under the bridge. Apparently they're all offered shelter accommodation but some decline. I've heard before that some rough sleepers choose the street because the shelters are so rough and/or strip them so completely of their independence. I have sympathy for the plight of these guys. Yes, it's not a nice sight to walk past, but I've never come down on the side of simply moving them on because ultimately I don't know enough about the situation to be able to take a stance on the resolution - and it just shifts the problem; it doesn't solve it.

There were loads of homeless under the bridge at Finsbury Park too. Have they been moved on?

I think they are under Islington Council with some input from Haringey so probably not included in this action.

More on this situation.

I've heard that all of the rough sleepers under the bridge are being ‘engaged’, and are in the process of being offered accommodation. The council has provided garage storage for bulky personal items, if required, and unwanted material has been collected by Veolia. A jet-wash deep clean has also taken place.

Some rough sleepers may have chosen not to engage and left earlier.

The letter below from Haringey Council to Cllr Zena Brabazon, following her official enquiry, makes clear both the context and complexity of the issues surrounding both the overall and the specific situation in Green Lanes.

Dear Councillor Brabazon

Thank you for your enquiry regarding Green Lanes bridge (our reference LBH/ 8268719), where we have been working hard to address rough sleeping and street activity. 

Our Outreach Team including our Street Population Outreach Worker are working to support the individuals that are sleeping under the bridge, and those who are present during the day, away from the area and into accommodation and support.

The people that are sleeping there have had their housing and support needs assessed and plans are in place to support them. I’m sure you’ll appreciate that I can’t share specific or identifiable personal information about individual circumstances due to data protection legislation.

However, I can assure you that our street outreach teams and BUBIC are in contact with all of them on a regular basis. I know you are currently looking at a proposal by BUBIC for additional resources to work with the people there who are using drugs and alcohol and this is something we welcome and support. Whilst we have been fortunate to obtain a range of additional resources to tackle rough sleeping in the last 12 months, we have limited resource to provide substance use support on the streets and this is an issue that can trap people in a cycle of street homelessness, exploitation and vulnerability.

We do recognise the impact this has on the community around Green Lanes and as such have worked with our colleagues in the police and community safety to deliver both supportive and enforcement based interventions to tackle the issues there. This has included regular multi-agency meetings, street cleansing operations (three such street cleanses have taken place since November), daily street outreach walkabouts and targeted support and housing offers for those who are willing and eligible to accept. We have stepped up this work in the last few weeks and will continue to do so until we have made some more progress with those involved. We would encourage businesses to ensure that areas such as bin stores and alleyways are kept securely locked wherever possible so that when people move from one area they are not easily able to move into another.

The resolution to rough sleeping is usually much more than an offer of accommodation, as this example demonstrates, but where possible we seek to ensure that people are offered a route away from the streets at the very first opportunity. Sometimes this feels slow, but outreach work with vulnerable people involves building relationships and trust, ensuring that people are able to access the right support to address the concerns preventing them from entering accommodation which can include histories of trauma, abuse and exploitation as well as mistrust of professionals and chaotic drug dependency. To help us deliver our aims of ending rough sleeping in Haringey, we have commissioned a number of services, including the Haringey Crashpad and our single homeless Supported Housing Pathway. Unfortunately, our work can be obstructed by a number of issues out of our control, for example legislation preventing the use of public funds to accommodate people who have not exercised their treaty rights as EEA/EU migrants. This affects 65% of people rough sleeping in Haringey and all of those who are rough sleeping at Green Lanes. Nonetheless, we are able to offer employment support, rapid access to drug and alcohol services and a range of cold weather provision which is open to everyone regardless of immigration status.

In terms of prevention work, Haringey Council and Homes for Haringey are guided by the Homelessness Reduction Act (2018). The prevention of homelessness is our priority and we encourage any individual that is homeless or threatened with homelessness to attend a housing needs appointment in order for their situation to be assessed and for a personalised housing plan to be created and actioned. We ask all residents, businesses and services to let us know as soon as they have concerns that an individual may be rough sleeping, by using the Streetlink service. Streetlink helps us track and monitor hotspot areas and understand how people move within boroughs and are drawn to particular locations so we do encourage residents and businesses to use this service. 

Yours sincerely,

Charlotte Pomery

Assistant Director Commissioning, Haringey Council

Doesn’t this mean they were moved on and NOT given alternative shelter? ‘Unfortunately, our work can be obstructed by a number of issues out of our control, for example legislation preventing the use of public funds to accommodate people who have not exercised their treaty rights as EEA/EU migrants. This affects 65% of people rough sleeping in Haringey and all of those who are rough sleeping at Green Lanes’

Just one example of the impact of the Governments 'Hostile Environment' policy?

Yes, it seems a bit self-contradictory on the face of it. But I assume that street sleeper and homeless charities can still offer help. I hope links are being made to these organisations. 

The key phrase here is 

“a range of cold weather provision which is open to everyone regardless of immigration status.”

under the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol councils can open extra night shelters that provide a temporary bed until it the sub zero temperatures pass. It’s likely that drug and alcohol charities will be on hand, like HAGA to offer help of people need to get clean. It’s unlikely the council will reveal in a public letter where the men have gone as they may not wish to be tracked. Conceivably, someone who knows them could read on this public forum about them. 

What the council can’t do is provide longer term accommodation as the default position under the legislation is that if you are over 18 and can’t work or provide for yourself without recourse to public funds you should return to your home EU country. Many workers choose to live rough and work cash in hand because they can still do better here that back “home” or may have personal reasons for not returning. 

Workers living without benefits and working cash in hand isn’t new. In the past, they were often able to squat old buildings but that was criminalised a while back so now they are forced onto the streets if they can’t rent or stay with someone. 

Of course, out of fear some may refuse the help. You can’t force people to go. Equally public health concerns means you can’t have people setting up homes in the street without toilet facilities, especially if there are additional addiction problems. Homeless people are also in considerable danger from attack, and so they can’t just be left night after night.

Thanks, Liz. That’s a helpful post. 

I find this very disturbing. I don't like seeing people rough sleeping anywhere but the idea of 'authorities' moving them on in the coldest season of the year speaks of a minuse of power. They can perform these actions but not give us any information aboiut what is actually happening to the people involved. Does that only strike me as dangerous? When the police and community services move in this way they should at least be accountable, and give some regard to reporting to the community, apart from anodyne form responses from council spokespeople that is.

But, if one of the rough sleepers died of cold, wouldn't you blame the authorities for doing nothing ?

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