Wolverhampton: Drop in number of rough sleepers on city’s streets

Wolverhampton has witnessed a significant reduction in its rough sleeper population, achieving one of its lowest levels ever as part of a concerted effort to ensure that no one is forced to spend the night outside or endure hunger within the city. The city council adopts a comprehensive, multi-agency strategy that has been effective in reducing homelessness, with recent statistics revealing that Wolverhampton now has a lower number of rough sleepers than many other cities across the country.

According to the latest annual Government count, published on 29 February 2024 which provides a snapshot of rough sleeping on a single night, Wolverhampton’s rough sleeper count stood at 6, a decrease from 11 in November 2022. This data was released by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities following its latest count on Thursday, October 26, 2023, illustrating Wolverhampton’s progress against a nationwide uptrend in rough sleeping.

While the country has experienced a 27% increase in rough sleeping for the second consecutive year, the West Midlands region, including Wolverhampton, recorded the smallest increase at just 2%. 

Snapshot of statistics from Wolverhampton’s Rough Sleeper Figures in Autumn 2023

Every individual identified as rough sleeping in Wolverhampton on the night of the count has been offered long-term, secure, appropriate, and sustainable housing options. This success is partly due to the dedicated efforts of the city’s Pathway Service, commissioned by the City of Wolverhampton Council and executed by the social inclusion charity P3.

The opening of Peter Bilson House on Bond Street in the spring of 2023 has marked a pivotal advancement in addressing rough sleeping in Wolverhampton. Named in honour of the late Councillor Peter Bilson, the facility significantly contributes to the city’s efforts by providing high-quality accommodation, support, and emergency beds for those experiencing rough sleeping. Moreover, it serves as a crucial hub for continued multi-agency collaboration aimed at supporting individuals with a history of rough sleeping, underscoring the city’s commitment to combating homelessness in a sustainable and compassionate manner.

Councillor Steve Evans, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing at City of Wolverhampton Council, said: “Rough sleeping numbers are down to some of the lowest levels they’ve ever been in the city which is a testament to the effective partnership work being done

“In its first year Peter Bilson House is already helping to transform the lives of vulnerable people in our city allowing people to live safe and independent lives with the backing of arms-length support as and when required. It really is a fitting legacy to the man it is named after who was devoted to the City of Wolverhampton and its residents. 

Anyone currently sleeping rough in Wolverhampton will have been offered accommodation and support. In a small number of cases individuals sometimes refuse help or support for various reasons but we will still endeavour to work with anyone who is homeless through our dedicated outreach support.

Our aim is to ensure no one has to sleep rough in Wolverhampton and the council continues to work with a number of partners across the city to this end.”

Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for Adults and Wellbeing, said: “People who are sleeping rough, or are at risk of becoming homeless, often also have complex needs including physical and mental health problems. 

“Supporting vulnerable clients through Public Health, NHS, social care and addiction services, alongside housing and employment support, has helped many people in Wolverhampton find a long term and sustainable alternative to sleeping rough.”

P3’s Head of Support & Community Services, Sam Bailey, said: “Effective partnership working is key to our ongoing success in Wolverhampton. 

“By working collaboratively, we can continue to ensure everyone across the city knows no one should have to sleep outside or go hungry.

“For P3, our goal remains the same and we will work daily to ensure anyone who has 

experienced homelessness can access the support they need to exit the streets. 

“Our priority is for people to have somewhere safe and settled to call home, and access to the right personalised emotional and practical assistance to turn their life around.”

Definition of Rough Sleeping according to the UK Government Website

What can I do if I am sleeping rough on the streets of Wolverhampton?

The easiest thing to do is either go to one of the main commissioned homelessness centres in Wolverhampton – so that would be Good Shepherd Wolverhampton, P3 Wolverhampton and St George’s House.

If you have access to the internet on your phone then you or someone else with internet access can log the location you are bedding down at night on www.thestreetlink.org.uk and this will alert the local rough sleeper outreach team of your location and that you need support. They will do all they can to try and support you off the streets and into accommodation. 

How can I give help to people experiencing street homelessness?

There are two main ways – 

  1. With the person’s permission, letting the local rough sleeper outreach team know of their location via the www.thestreetlink.org.uk website
  2. Donating money that will go directly to supporting people out of street homelessness via the alternative giving scheme via Alternative Giving or by using the charity’s tap and go points in Railway Drive or Victoria Square.

Preventing Homelessness

With the cost of living crisis placing added pressure on households, the city council has put in place a number of support mechanisms to prevent people becoming homeless or rough sleepers. Full details can be found at Cost of Living Support | City Of Wolverhampton Council.