18/11/16 – #TentDeath LATEST UPDATES:

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Hello and welcome to the coverage of our #TentDeath Campaign: Getting justice for Cardon Banfield who sadly died, decomposed and rotted away in a tent on the banks of the Severn in Worcester June/July 2016.


 SAFEGUARDING ADULT REVIEW (previously named a Serious Case Review) UPDATE:
The following agencies have had a request by the Worcestershire Safeguarding Adults Board to give information about Cardon Banfield for a ‘scoping’ exercise which will determine whether a full investigation needs to take place;

  • St Paul’s Hostel
  • YMCA Worcestershire
  • Maggs Day Centre
  • Worcester City Council (Housing Department)
  • County Community Projects (CCP)

By LAW (under the Care Act), they have up to 2 weeks to respond with this information.
Hugo Sugg, Founder of Hugo’s Earthquake, has submitted information for this scoping exercise too from personal connection with Cardon when he lived at the YMCA and Hugo worked.

BREAKING NEWS: Worcester City Council Housing Team have agreed to remove terminology from the County Community Projects (CCP) Single Person Homeless and Prevention Contract.

The term ‘Intensive Support’ for homeless people living in temporary accommodation was never defined in the original Contract – and so Nina Warrington (Housing Manager) directly said to Hugo Sugg on the 11th November “that because it was never defined, [they] have agreed with CCP to remove the term ‘intensive support'”.

  • We are checking with legal sources if this is legal or not within the realms of Contracting and Procurement.

> A Freedom of Information request has gone in for Hugo’s Earthquake to see the original bid that CCP wrote. An answer must be delivered by the 29th November.

> CCP had an Open Day today (18th November), and we encouraged residents to silently protest opposite the building with banners opposing the lack of comprehensive service now in Worcestershire.

> Hugo’s Earthquake’s Twitter account has been blocked by CCP and Maggs Day Centre, but this does not stop our Campaigning to get justice for Cardon. Hugo Sugg have personally emailed the management of these organisations.

> Worcester City Councillor Alan Feeney has requested all documents relating to the CCP Homeless Contract, under a special power that Elected Members of the Council have, to examine them himself. Cllr Feeney (Conservative) is the Shadow Portfolio for Housing in Worcester City Council’s political system.

> The campaigned-for Homeless Forum has not moved any more since October and a draft Terms of Reference.

In response to all these developments, #TentDeath Campaign leader Hugo Sugg said this:

“Justice for Cardon is taking longer than expected, but that is because some organisations have not been playing ball and decided to dig their heads under the sand and carry on with their work. This is not acceptable when Mr Banfield was so badly let down and left to rot in a tent. I am working hard to make sure individuals and agencies are held accountable for their actions, positive or negative.
I will ensure Cardon died with as much dignity as possible.

A person dying on our streets in 2016 is bad… But an elderly gentleman dying and not even raising alarm bells – that is truly unforgivable.

 

LISTEN to @youthcommradio in morning to hear about #WGPMixer Event with @worcsgreenparty and @HugosEarthquake!

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TOMORROW at 7.30pm, Hugo’s Earthquake and co. will be talking about homelessness to over 40 audience members, and many more through social media (streaming the event live). Before that though, Hugo Sugg will be on Worcester’s Youthcomm Radio from 10.10am discussing what will be said in the evening, and also giving an overview of homelessness in Worcestershire.

There are under 5 spaces left for the event tomorrow evening and booking is highly recommended. Tickets are free, but space is limited. Links below.

TUNE IN FROM 10.10am: http://tunein.com/radio/Youthcomm-Radio-1067-s2718/
BOOK TICKETS FOR THE EVENING EVENT:https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/worcester-green-party-homelessness-talk-tickets-28290624018?aff=es2.

Tweet in during the radio event and throughout the day: @HugosEarthquake.

EXCLUSIVE: @HugoSugg comes out from behind #HugosEarthquake & explains why #TentDeath matters so much to him.

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74 year old Cardon Banfield, who tragically passed away and decomposed in a tent this summer, is the latest victim of the shambles that is Worcester City and Worcestershire county’s homeless provision.

I am SICK of not hearing someone taking part-responsibility around Mr Banfield’s death, why homelessness is so bad and the ever-rotating rhetoric that money is running out and we need more.
We all know that services are being reduced, we have all seen the effects of it – but homelessness isn’t like bin collections or road markings… This is PEOPLE’S LIVES and we should respect them. Yet, homeless services get decimated by an austerity agenda which has seen numerous deaths, and worse, suicides from around the country and in Worcestershire.

This is not me or my Campaign sticking up for one provider or another, siding with just one argument or not able to listen to different arguments – this is a simple call for justice: Justice for Cardon Banfield and all the couple of hundred of homeless people around Worcestershire who suffer at the hands of untrusting workers, struggling services, incompetency at the hands of Elected Politicians and tax-paid Civil Servants and lack of co-ordination.

Over the last five years, we have had a legacy of the Supporting People programme sitting in the Worcestershire Homelessness Strategy, but during that period the large amounts of money diminished and co-ordination of services suffered the biggest blow. The Worcestershire LinkUp Database was a place where all clients who accessed homeless support would have their story, support and records in one place and available to all services went in 2014. This removed the joined up approach which Government recommended, Serious Case Reviews have pointed out and other Local Authority areas have in place.

Last year when ‘Hugo’s Earthquake’ was at infancy stage, I campaigned very hard against the City Council to firstly apologise for the comment that rough sleeping is a lifestyle choice but just as importantly, get a Homeless Forum which would join up all the services and put them around a table to discuss provision.
Worcester has a very high number of housing and support services per capita, but some of the highest homeless figures for a Shire per capita… There are many duplications of services but also gaps in provision and this isn’t good enough because vulnerable people are suffering – and have suffered.

It is indisputable that Cardon should have had better support around him – namely an Outreach Team but it tragically got decimated between February and April 2016 by Worcester City Council. CCP obtained the contract and refused to challenge it, knowing full well that rough sleeping is a huge issue in the City because of the 2015 November rough sleeper count figures. The horrific circumstances of someone decomposing in a tent and smelling so bad only then someone noticed, cannot go without part or whole responsibility being taken by Worcester Conservatives who ran the City Council at the time of the Contract being written, CCP for not having him on their books or Maggs Day Centre for categorically failing to pass on information or signpost to get Mr Banfield help for his problems.

Rough sleeping isn’t just about trying to get someone into a spare bed, but instead trying to build a positive relationship with them so they can, when they see fit and not the worker, get support and help for their issues. By both results and research, an Outreach Team with qualified workers (both from experience and formal training) is the only sustainable method of supporting Britain’s rough sleepers into accommodation and getting achievable, measurable outcomes for them.

Although I kick myself for using that word ‘outcomes’, because it suggests vulnerable people who are 6 times more likely to commit suicide compared to the general population, are just pawns in a game of workers getting wages at the end of the month. Where has the humanity in the system gone? We have a collection of people whose first priority is the money, and not the homeless person bedding down on the concrete pillow that night. That is fundamentally wrong, and in Worcestershire at least – I will work tirelessly hard to change it.

Mr Banfield might have indeed died from natural causes, however the system that the taxpayers contribute to let him down because no one raised the question of “where’s Cardon lately?”. That very question epitomises the massive issue I have with Worcester City Council Politicians & Officers, CCP and Maggs:

Maggs’ Chief Executive Mel Kirk claims that the organisation doesn’t keep track of their service users because of “lack of statutory funding”, CCP’s Deputy Chief Executive Dave Jones admitted to me on in a phone conversation that they did not know of Cardon Banfield in their new ‘Homeless Prevention Service’ and Worcester City Council claim they just didn’t know of him at all.

When you are paid to deliver a service, and you are in an area of work as human-centered as homelessness support is, IT IS DISGRACEFUL AND INEXCUSABLE to single-handedly or collectively hide behind money or ignorance at the expense of a human being’s life and consequent loss of. And yes, I will name and shame these people and proud to blow the lid on it – because if only;

  • Worcester City Council’s Housing Department (led by Nina Warrington) had initiated this Homeless Forum earlier, wrote a Tender which was fit for the issues Worcester faces in terms of rough sleeping, but in line with the money available and facilitated some sort of information-sharing hub…
  • Maggs Day Centre had a culture amongst staff of knowing who they are working with, asked them simple but information-heavy questions and reported them on a update-able database and
  • CCP spending time getting to know service-users, their sleeping or crowd hotspots and not administering the culture of ‘they will come to us when they need help, but if they don’t they can stay out there’

we might have had a better and healthier outcome for an elderly gentleman sleeping on the banks of the River Severn.

In their Contract written and awarded by Worcester City Council, CCP have got to legally deliver a “light touch” service to rough sleepers and “reduce accident admissions to A&E departments” – but neither ‘light touch’ or ‘accident’ are defined, and that leaves the terms open to abuse, interpretation and lack of accountability.
Having these obscurities in a service that deals with upset, traumatised and vulnerable people, many of whom don’t know the system anyway, is only ever going to run reasonably well (whilst being very high risk) for a limited time.

The simple facts are; the Homeless Forum I successfully campaigned for should have been set up earlier and working with agencies to discuss duplications and gaps, the Contract should have been scrutinised by Political Parties before authorising, a better analysis of services for rough sleepers happened by the Council Officers, Maggs Day Centre should have kept even a small record of Mr Banfield’s movements and connections (and referred to CCP), and CCP should have publically defined what “light touch” meant, and if that has changed in light of Cardon Banfield’s death.

There are many people who have ties to – what I called it at the beginning of this piece –  shambles of homeless services in Worcester City and the county as a whole, and I will spend whatever amount of time, for however long I need to make sure the situation is rectified. Nothing anyone does can bring Cardon back, but we can make sure he did not die and left to decompose and rot in vain.

Just in the last few days, I have personally submitted for a Freedom of Information Request of the CCP bid and promises of delivery to the Contract, initiated the Contract to go to the City Council’s Scrutiny Panel immediately by the Worcester Conservative Party and written to the Worcestershire written, televised and radio press about this issue.

I graduated with a Youth and Community Work Degree on Thursday because I stand up for the ones who have little or no voice. Communities, individuals or young people it doesn’t matter – what matters is a human life worth the same as the next person’s and that if one gets lost, a responsibility and accountability lies somewhere. It’s in my values, ethics and morals to stand up for a gentleman who made mistakes, didn’t behave the best but who got pushed out because of many different reasons but to make it all worse – was left to die in the most disgusting and vile way in a modern society. No one should end their life like that, ever.

I will not back down, I will not silence, I will not hold back and I promise a Worcestershire Homeless Forum, a better Outreach Service and Justice for Cardon will be delivered eventually. And whilst someone sleeping in a tent should not happen in this country, a death on our streets is abhorrent, disgraceful and has no place ever in Worcestershire or beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

#TentDeath Update: FOI Request to @myworcester to look over @CCProjects / @CCPWorcs Contract.

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The Freedom of Information Act comes in handy to a Campaigning organisation, because we can use it to challenge and argue our point.

Hugo’s Earthquake believes that Worcester City Council has written a bad Tender Contract for the homeless in Worcester, at the expense of £500,000 (over 2 years) of which County Community Projects (Gloucester) bidded and was awarded. As we have previously revealed, the Single Person and Childless Couples Homeless Prevention Support Service Tender Document the City Council produced near the beginning of 2016 practically decimates the Homeless Outreach Service which was existent under the previous WHIT Contract.

We believe that due of the lack of a comprehensive Outreach Service or communication system, Cardon Banfield was not known to Worcester City Council Housing Team or CCP in the weeks and months leading up to his death. Maggs Day Centre admit that they did know of him, but did not pass this information on or indeed signpost Mr Banfield to other agencies which could have assisted him.

FACT: There is now no comprehensive, dedicated outreach service for rough sleepers in any district in Worcestershire.
The Tender to which CCP was awarded states in black and white:

“The Provider will ensure resources are to be targeted at those newly arrived to the streets. Entrenched Rough Sleepers are to receive a “light touch” service until ready to engage with more preventative services that will support them from the streets and into long term accommodation.”

But we see that there are many faults in this tiny section of the Tender:

  • Why is this just ‘new to the street’, and not the more entrenched rough sleepers which arguably need the service more?
  • What does this term “light touch” ACTUALLY  mean, and can either the Council or CCP publicly define it?
  • The idea that rough sleepers should be given ‘light touch’ service, “until ready to engage”? It is a fact that rough sleepers are the least trustworthy when it comes to engaging with services. The very fact the Council’s view on the rising rough sleeper problem is to give minimal help and assume they will come for help is disgusting, because these humans deserve the help and support which will ensure they have a semi-recognisable quality of life. Rough sleepers will tend to only engage with services when a strong, trusting relationship is developed with the support worker.
  • “From the streets into long term accommodation” – but without a comprehensive Outreach Service, how can CCP work with other agencies to get these homeless from the streets into beds?
  • In the article about #TentDeath, it was reported in the Worcester News that “if members of the general public are concerned about someone sleeping rough then they can report them via Streetlink – call 0300 500 0914 or log on to http://www.streetlink.org.uk. A support worker will attend the reported spot within 24 hours of referral.“, however there is ZERO mention of an out of hours service in the Tender – so we’re asking the following uncomfortable question to be answered immediately:

    If a rough sleeper is reported in Worcestershire via Streetlink on a Friday or Saturday, when will a support worker from CCP attend?

All of these questions and statements need addressing quickly, because this is £500,000 of Worcester taxpayers money which is being spent. To try and help answer some of these ourselves, the Founder of Hugo’s Earthquake this morning (1st November 2016) submitted a Freedom of Information Request into Worcester City Council’s FOI department. This FOI is asking for the very agreement that CCP wrote and won against the Tender to deliver the new service. Hugo Sugg explains why this request has been submitted:

“Rest assured that if the Council decide not to release this document because of ‘commercial confidentiality’ or other legal reason, we will use the death of Mr Banfield to gain the truth as to what CCP promised and is delivering. This is NOT, I repeat not, because we are using this man’s tragic death as a scapegoat for our Campaign – but rather making sure Cardon did not die in vain, and there remains a high risk that someone else could die on our streets before the winter of 2016 is over.

It is my ambition to ensure our most vulnerable on the streets are properly looked after and that their lives aren’t put in danger because of a political ideology which sees ‘open market competition’ decrease a service just to save money. These are human beings, and it is a very sad fact that Mr Banfield might not have died in the circumstances he did (left to decompose) if there had been a comprehensive outreach service which knew of his whereabouts. I, personally, are campaigning for justice to be delivered in the name of Cardon, an immediate review of the Single Person and Childless Couples Homeless Prevention Support Service and Worcester City Council to change its stance that rough sleepers should not have to approach services just to receive assistance.

There is a toxic cultural position which Worcester City Council Homelessness Department has which puts the blame on the very people they are paid to assist by Worcester residents. This organisational cultural position was exposed in its glory last December over the Scarfgate row which saw the Council Housing Manager state that “rough sleeping was a lifestyle choice that people make” (hear the organic soundclip at the bottom of the article or click here), and then backtrack days later. Although a public apology was given, even on the Authority’s own website, the sentiment of own choice lives on in Council Officers’ work
Both CCP, Worcester City Council and all other agencies paid for by public money must remember to be transparent and accountable to their bosses – which are NOT the Local Authority, politicians or charities but instead the person who pays their taxes every month from their hard-earned wage packet.”

Whilst #TentDeath has been extremely tragic and really hit the public and services of Worcester hard, it is only right that people are held accountable as to what services are available to help our residents – any of whom could be homeless or rough sleeping at any point in time.

 

Pictured at the top of this article is the Freedom of Information Act request to Worcester City Council which Hugo Sugg submitted about the Tender.

A week to go! Homeless Talk at Worcester Arts Workshop with @worcsgreenparty.

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There is just one week left before Worcester Green Party hosts their Mixer Event on Homelessness in the centre of Worcester! On Tuesday 8th November from 7pm, Worcester Arts Workshop will be packed full of people from all ages, walks of life and political leanings to hear about homelessness, its causes, its reasons and its challenges.

In a talk named “Where Is Your Next Home?”, specially dedicated to Mr Cardon Banfield, who tragically died on the riverside in Worcester earlier this year, Hugo Sugg from Hugo’s Earthquake will be sharing his personal experience of homelessness, stats and facts about homelessness in general and more. Attendees will have a chance to ask questions also.

Hugo will also be welcoming two very special guests, Jordan Smith and Cam Hill, who have recently completed their National Citizenship Service with YMCA Worcestershire, raising awareness and collecting food for Worcester Foodbank – which will also be taking place on the night!

LIMITED tickets are still available for the event and you can book them for free NOW using this link:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/worcester-green-party-homelessness-talk-tickets-28290624018?aff=es2#tickets.
Please note that there is a waiting list once tickets have sold out, and there is always a slim possibility we can fit people in who have not got tickets.

The Hugo’s Earthquake Press and Social Media Team will be streaming the event live over social media, and attendees will be encouraged to Tweet during the event using the Hashtag #WGPMixer. Watch closely on the @HugosEarthquake Twitter account for more information nearer the time.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact either Worcester Green Party or Hugo’s Earthquake.

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