Partnership case study: ‘Supporting People off the Streets (SPOTS)’ by Axiom

We aimed to prevent first night rough sleepers from becoming trapped, with all the associated risks to their health, and the consequential impact on health and social care services. Our scheme focussed on improving outcomes for first night rough sleepers and reducing the number who spend more than one night sleeping out.

Our challenge

‘SPOTS’ (Supporting People off the Streets) was designed to address the number of rough sleepers spending more than one night on the streets. It was funded through the No Second Night Out, Homeless Transition Fund. Information provided by Peterborough City Council estimated the following need from historical data:

  • 2012/13, estimated 130 new rough sleepers  
  • 16.8% estimated to be female
  • each spent an average of 7 nights rough sleeping before support or accommodation was assessed
  • there was a higher chance that rough sleeping may be repeated if intervention and assessment was not available immediately.

Our solution       

We converted a room within our direct access hostel for 72 hour stay facilities, to ensure stability and connection with relevant services. As the room was fully funded, this meant that the team had time to fully assess eligibility, local connection and whether an individual had recourse to public funds.

We seconded experienced staff with knowledge of homeless outreach services to work alongside Peterborough City Council and Peterborough Streets staff.

We were able to accept referrals from any agency or from members of the public and provide immediate access to an assessment and accommodation. 

Our impact

During the 18 month project we assessed 212 people; 106% of the target (exceeding our target of 200). Of those people assessed, 157 met the criteria for the service and were made an offer; 33 people declined the offer made and 55 people were not eligible.

A review of those who declined the offer revealed that reasons for refusal were generally connected to a client’s expectations of the offers that can be made for accommodation.

  • 133 males assessed
  • 27 females assessed
  • 67 accessed the crash bed
  • 64 in bed and breakfast
  • 82 in receipt of benefit
  • 5 with no recourse to public funds
  • 14 with no recourse to housing benefit
  • 107 UK nationals
  • 40 EEA nationals
  • 10 non EEA nationals
  • 20 with no local connection

We have committed to continue to offer the crash bed and Peterborough City Council continue to offer the verification process; to date we are still offering a service to rough sleepers.

Our partners

The service worked in partnership with the following organisations:

  • Homeless Link
  • Peterborough City Council Housing Options Team and Rough Sleeper Outreach
  • The Department for Work and Pensions
  • Border Agency
  • Peterborough Streets
  • Private Rented Sector Services
  • Faith based services within the City

The legacy of the 18 month project was to ensure that the Housing Needs team, and particularly the rough sleeper outreach worker within Peterborough City Council, and our direct access hostel undertook integrated work to identify rough sleepers and provide timely intervention. We have continued to provide the crash bed facility for the service. This has been made possible by ongoing housing benefit payments.

Our role

Housing is integral to the offer made to individuals once assessment has taken place; staff worked hard to find the right accommodation to ensure a positive outcome for the individual. In some cases it may have been temporary hostel accommodation to enable further time to find the right solution. In other cases we referred clients into the private rented sector, or some people returned to their family. Without intervention and housing being provided first, it is virtually impossible for people to continue to access health services, and it is statistically proven that rough sleepers have higher mortality rates.

Unfortunately some people were found not to be eligible for public funds, had no local connection and in some cases were then returned to their country of origin.

Our contribution to improving health

We believe this project addressed the following health outcomes:

  • NHS Outcome 1 – preventing people from dying prematurely
  • NHS Outcome 2 – enhancing quality of life for people with long-term conditions
  • NHS Outcome 3 – helping people to recover from episodes of ill-health or injury

Public Health Priorities:

  • Reducing the number of emergency re-admissions to hospital
  • Healthy life expectancy – Peterborough has lower rates for the region
  • Reducing deprivation – Peterborough has high rates of deprivation for the region
  • Admission episodes for alcohol related admissions to hospital

Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework:

  • 2 - Delaying and reducing the need for care and support
  • 4 - Safeguarding adults whose circumstances make them vulnerable and protecting them from avoidable harm

The project specifically targeted individuals who were sleeping rough for the first time or their first night of a new instance. It provided training and awareness sessions for staff, and various meetings to promote the services available within the City. This allowed us to ensure that a targeted, integrated, responsive approach was taken when a rough sleeper was identified. The scheme therefore contributed positively to the health, public health and adult social care outcomes identified.