Potential “homeless tent fine” by Stoke-on-Trent Council condemned by Campaign | @duncancushenan

On Friday 24th November it was reported that Stoke-on-Trent Council is in the consultation process for a new Public Space Protection Order, this order would make it an offence to “assemble, erect, occupy or use” a tent unless part of a council-sanctioned activity.

Which while is not an Order directly levelled and created against homeless people, will have an extreme affect on them.

As someone if found in breach of this Order would face a fine of £1,000 which in effect is punishing those who are the lowest and poorest in our society at best and at worse is criminalising them for having the smallest bit of shelter they can attain.

To many a park with tents in may be an eyesore but when you are someone that has little more than a tent between yourself and the cold, rain or snow it is the greatest luxury in their life.

At a time when welfare cuts, council cuts and funding cuts have led to a rise in homelessness, it is morally abhorrent that a council should even consider motions that will just make the problem worse.

Here at Hugo’s Earthquake we find it appalling that such a motion is being considered and urge everyone to make Stoke-on-Trent Council reconsider this policy before they bring it into effect.

We should be helping not undermining the most vulnerable in society especially in the run up to Christmas, a time for togetherness and kindness.

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IN FULL: @CCPWorcs successful bid to @myworcester for running homeless services in #Worcester

We can EXCLUSIVELY reveal the full tender document from CCP in regards to their successful bid to take the contract off St Paul’s and run homeless services for Single Homeless People and Childless Couples in Worcester, and a “Light Touch” Outreach Service. This comes in 3 parts due to the size of the file.

PART 1 – PART 2 – PART 3

Please note that this document has been obtained under Freedom of Information and Worcester City Council has made redactions, to which some we are challenging.

#JusticeForCardon: @myworcester City Council Risk Management Action Plan not done in ANOTHER policy breach

Shockingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly now, the Worcester City Council Housing/Homelessness Department led by Officer Nina Warrington (lined managed then by former Director of Place, but now Council MD, David Blake) did NOT complete a mandatory Risk Management Action Plan – in accordance with the Council Risk Management Strategy.

This Risk Management Action Plan should have highlighted the issues raised by the Risk Management Plan in regards to service users not being passed from the old WHIT contract to the “new” CCP contract: NAMELY CARDON BANFIELD.

This is directly connected with the service transition plan which the City Council redacted under our Freedom of Information request.

SEE THE FULL CCP CONTRACT BID (with redactions by City Council) HERE:
Part 1Part 2Part 3

We will be releasing a full statement and Press Release on this shortly.

#Budget2017: Campaign response to homelessness/housing proposals

On Wednesday Philip Hammond MP regaled the nation with his new budget that has to account for many factors of current times.

Of importance to us is the mention and targets set for homelessness made within this budget/speech today.

We are very glad to hear that Hammond mimics the thoughts that we have on the issue when he said:

 “It is unacceptable that in 21st Century Britain there are people sleeping on the streets.”

This is very true, in an age when GDP is measured in the Trillions of Dollars and we still need to measure homelessness and rough sleeping in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands.

It is not only reassuring to hear than Hammond also sees this as a core issue facing our nation but that he is going to commit resources to fix it.

First of all there is the reiteration of the commitment to half rough sleeping by 2022 and totally eliminate it by 2027 which may be a tall order but we shall support this government in this task.

Further to this is the investment of £28 million in three “housing first” projects in the West Midlands, Manchester and Liverpool.

This will support and aid those who no longer have a roof over their head to find a roof and a safe one at that. Such schemes have already operated domestically and abroad but we are happy to see extra funding into new high profile pilots.

There was also his proposal and empowerment to local councils allowing them to levy a 100% council tax premium on properties that are empty or vacant.

This is in the hopes of stopping properties remaining empty for longer periods of time when there is an obvious need to house so many people.

Finally, there was the mention of a “Homelessness Taskforce” what form this will take is yet to be determined but we stand behind and support such a proposal.

We believe this is a fair and strong approach to the issues of homelessness and rough sleeping within the United Kingdom but this is not the end, a lot of work is to be done and that will require constant funding.

-End-

Duncan Cushenan, Senior Press Officer

@HugosEarthquake

DATA RETENTION BREACH: @myworcester City Council Officers break their own adopted Data Retention policy | Comment: @kaiozrik

Through Freedom of Information, we have uncovered that Worcester City Council officials have breached Retention Guidelines for Local Authorities, which the Council adopted because they didn’t have their own data retention policy. LinkUp was the County’s database (commissioned by the City Council, ran by St Paul’s) of all homeless people that agencies worked with and was a central point of contact for the individual’s case. It was decommissioned (against the Worcestershire’s own Homelessness Strategy’s commitment to keep it) in 2014.

Below is the evidence of the breach, and as you can see they deleted the data within 3 years – where the minimum should have been six – if at all.

(more text below)


This is clear evidence that the Council have breached their own guidelines, but not been held to account until now.

We know that if you break rules when you live somewhere, the landlord will come down really hard on you – but if the landlord breaks rules, you’re not meant to complain because “they are the ones who give you somewhere to live”. Well, frankly, this is wrong and so is the Council getting away with it – and this is why we are exposing this.

In response to this, our Campaign Spokesperson Kai Gardiner said this:

It is vital that we expose failings, so we can stop them happening again.

#JusticeForCardon: The full guide to who’s who and what’s what?

In this index we will clear up who is who and what is what in terms of the complex Cardon Banfield case, with the aim to help people understand the case better.


Cardon Banfield – Cardon was a 74 year old homeless man who was living in Worcestershire on and off for a number of years prior to his death. Cardon had previously been supported by the Worcestershire Homelessness Intervention Team (WHIT) run by St Paul’s Hostel, Worcester (funded by the taxpayer) and other agencies prior to April 2016. He was found in a tent on the banks of the River Severn in Worcester by a warden of the cricket club on July 5th 2016, partially mummified and smelling.

Worcester City Council – the Local Authority that oversees the geographical area that Cardon was found in. Worcester City Council also manage the taxpayer-funded homeless services in the City/County in a process called commissioning.

  • David Blake – The now-Managing Director of Worcester City Council and previous “Head of Place”. David was directly responsible for the homelessness department of the City Council at the time of Cardon’s discovery and his staff created the environment which is crucial to the Cardon Banfield case.
  • Nina Warrington – As Strategic Housing Manager of the City Council, Nina has been the person who has overseen homelessness and housing policy for a decade. Nina has been leading and directing the policies and contracts of the City in terms of homelessness.
  • Ben Bradley – Ben is a homeless worker for the City Council responsible for commissioning, de-commissioning and managing taxpayer-funded homelessness services in Worcestershire. Ben was the person who wrote the badly-worded contract for the CCP contract which was enforced from April 2016.
  • Worcester Conservative Party – Worcester Tories were in political control of the City Council before and immediately after Cardon was found and was responsible for the de-commissioning of WHIT and commissioning of CCP. The Worcester Conservatives have never spoken out in relation to Cardon’s death.
    • Cllr Lucy Hodgson – Lucy was in the Cabinet of both Worcestershire County Council and Worcester City Council and was the person to instigate the cuts to funding for the WHIT and authorise the creation of CCP. Lucy single-handedly authorised the CCP service that would cut Cardon’s support for getting housing, off.
    • Robin Walker MP – Robin is the elected Conservative Member of Parliament for Worcester (City) and was publicly vocal about the need to learn lessons from Cardon’s death with a full investigation.
  • Worcester Labour Party – The Worcester Labour Party took political control of Worcester City Council shortly after Cardon’s death and have held it ever since. They have overseen the majority of the scandalous response and denial by the City Council in response to his death. The Party did however break silence 3 days after Cardon’s identity was discovered and spoke out about the tragedy.
    • Cllr Joy Squires – Joy Squires, Deputy Leader of the Worcester Labour Party, came to the Cardon Flower Vigil on the 5th July 2017 to pay respects a year on from Cardon’s discovery.

St Paul’s Hostel/WHIT – St Paul’s Hostel based in the City Centre is the organisation that ran the previous support contract from the City Council called the WHIT. Cardon was supported by the WHIT for a small number of years and they helped him get accommodation, especially in the YMCA Worcester hostel in 2014. WHIT were contracted to walk around the streets of Worcester once a day, sometimes more, and support rough sleepers in the place they were residing. Through this service was Cardon picked up and supported.
When the contract with the City Council was ended, and the new service started with CCP in April 2016, St Paul’s no longer had any responsibility to support Cardon and WHIT had vanished. There was no structured transfer of information or clients over to CCP from St Paul’s, and this has been central to the controversy about how and why Cardon was allowed to fall through the cracks and not be supported.

CCP – Caring for Communities and People (CCP) is the organisation that holds the current taxpayer-funded homelessness service in Worcestershire, starting in April 2016. CCP were the agency responsible for supporting rough sleepers like Cardon in the 3 months before Cardon’s discovery. CCP’s contract for the service stated that they were to run a “Light Touch” outreach service from the start of their contract, but what this meant was not defined in the official Contract from the City Council, written by Ben Bradley.
CCP and the City Council have since agreed that this “Light Touch” service would be once every 4 weeks minimum and this is contractually still the case. There has still been no release of the transition plan between the City Council and CCP in regards to clients being bought across from WHIT.

Maggs Day Centre – Maggs Day Centre is an organisation which does not receive substantial or core money from the City Council to run. They have no current contract with the City Council to provide a service on behalf of taxpayers.
However, Maggs Day Centre are crucial in the story around why Cardon wasn’t supported from when WHIT was wound up to CCP. It was widely reported and confirmed that Cardon visited Maggs at least once in the time of having his support stopped by the winding up of WHIT and his death in at least mid-June 2016 – however Maggs did not pass on any information to CCP about him.
With safeguarding a key responsibility of any organisation working with the homeless, it is therefore reasonable to suggest that Maggs’ should have passed on any concern they had about Cardon to CCP, who held the contract: By the point in time that Cardon had visited Maggs, he was living in a tent and not in any housing or lodgings.

  • Mel Kirk – Mel Kirk is the Chief Executive of Maggs Day Centre and the person responsible for the service being delivered by Maggs. Mel’s running of the organisation means that no rough sleeper was, and still is not, automatically referred onto CCP or an agency because they have had contact with Maggs.

Worcestershire Safeguarding Adults Board/Safeguarding Adults Review – The Worcestershire Safeguarding Adults Board (WSAB) is the statutory body which safeguards adults in Worcestershire, including Worcester City. A member of the public can report any safeguarding concerns they have about an adult in the County to this Board and they must make further inquiries.
If there has been a suspicious death or serious consequences around a death of an adult in Worcestershire, a member of the public or Members of the Board itself may request a Safeguarding Adults Review (SAR). This is a new name for what was called a Serious Case Review. A purpose of a SAR is to establish facts around the individual, the lead up to the death and the lessons that can be learnt to stop something similar happening again.
In November 2016, the case of Cardon Banfield was referred to the WSAB however it was concluded in December 2016 that a SAR was not going to happen, due to the fact that Cardon was not known to statutory services. We have challenged this and have since gained evidence to submit another request for a SAR in 2017/2018.

Healthwatch Worcestershire – Healthwatch Worcestershire are the legal body that represents the voice of clients in services, like homeless services and the NHS. They have been involved since mid-2017 in helping to get a SAR into Cardon’s death. Healthwatch believe that lessons can be learnt around safeguarding homeless adults in Worcestershire in response to the failings of organisations to support Cardon.
Healthwatch have publicly stated that they have no confidence in safeguarding practices in Worcestershire and said there were serious failings in the de-commissioning and re-commissioning of homeless services in Worcestershire and Worcester. Healthwatch are helping to push for another SAR after the first one was rejected by the Adult Safeguarding Board.

PRESS RELEASE: @myworcester City Council decide to wait for ANOTHER homeless death before reviewing anything.

03/11/2017 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Earlier it was announced at a Healthwatch Worcestershire board meeting that Worcester City Council will not be carrying out a review of the death of Cardon Banfield. Nor a review in general about the state of homelessness and the safeguarding structure for those who are homeless.

The decision made was that a review would only be carried out if there was another death of a homeless person on the streets of Worcester. Meaning that as it stands if you are homeless in Worcester the structures provided by the City Council, will be remaining as they are with no prospective review in sight.

Hugo’s Earthquake is extremely disappointed by this decision that no review will be taken at all and no potential review is on the horizon. We find that it is of poor judgement that a review is contingent on the death of a second homeless person, as if a review was carried out now it could save that life.

In reaction to the news, our Spokesperson said: “The Campaign is outraged. Worcester City Council are basically saying “let’s wait until another rough sleeper dies before we tackle the problem”. The Council are working backwards”.

Hugo’s Earthquake urges the City Council and the members of the Council to undertake a review now and not to wait for a second death, as one death alone is a tragedy that should be investigated and learned from, there is no good reason to wait for the needless death of a second person.

We in fact urge for two reviews to take place, first and foremost one on the safeguarding measures and structures that are available to the homeless in Worcester and their effectiveness – secondly, a review on the criteria and thresholds which insitgate a review into the safeguarding structures.

The Campaign has approached the Department of Communities and Local Government, Robin Walker MP (Worcester), Crisis and Shelter for comment in light of this decision.

 

-END-

Duncan Cushenan, Senior Press Officer
Twitter: @EarthquakePress
Website: Hugo’s Earthquake Press Office Homepage

Senior Press Officer hired: Duncan Cushenan | Press Office

We are pleased to announce journalist and current affairs follower Duncan Cushenan has been recruited to train up our Press Office Team.

Duncan brings with him his experience writing articles in UK defence journals which are seen by over 10,000 people. His role will be to ensure we get relevant, swift and accurate Press Releases out to the press and campaign supporters.

Working with our Comms Head Kai, Duncan will help lead the Press Office to a reputable and trusted place for people to turn too about homelessness in the UK.

Welcome to this exciting role, Dunc!

Hugo’s Earthquake official campaign spokesperson: @kaiozrik | Press Office

Kai Gardiner, a key supporter of our #JusticeForCardon Campaign, has accepted the position of being Hugo’s Earthquake’s official campaign spokesperson as part of his new role as Head of Communications and PR.

With this, Kai will be heading up our Press Office, our communications and alongside other senior management, influencing the direction of the campaign.

Welcome, Kai!