Homeless Services During Pandemic


12th May 2020

Dundee City Council and local partners have transformed their homeless services to tackle the challenges of the coronavirus crisis and maintain support to some of the most vulnerable people in the city.

City organisations involved in the effort to provide lifeline assistance have been praised for their “can do” attitude.
With offices closed and social distancing in place, the way the council is handling its homeless applications has been adapted to include telephone interviews, while an electronic application process is also now in place..

Teleconferencing between the council, voluntary and third sector partners allows information to be shared quickly, including details about those who are rough sleeping or involved in street begging.

Meanwhile more temporary accommodation has been created to meet rising demand as the pandemic continues.

City council neighbourhood services convener Councillor Anne Rendall explained: “The council has a statutory duty to house people who are homeless and we take that extremely seriously. We have made a number changes to the way we provide support to tackle the specific problems arising from this health crisis.

“There are a number of reasons why people are homeless and we are committed to working with partners to provide a range of services that can help them with mental health, substance use and financial issues.”

She added: “We are working to ensure that nobody who finds themselves homeless is left behind, especially under the current circumstances where people are at even more risk out on the streets.

“Before the coronavirus outbreak the turnover of people leaving temporary accommodation was enough to be able to meet demand, but we have reached the point where we have had to create more temporary accommodation to meet continuing demand.”

Bryan Smith, operations manager, at Transform Community Development, said: “The pandemic has really brought into sharp focus the partnership working that supports individuals facing the challenges of homelessness.

“The multi-agency response has been fantastic with a superb can-do attitude from all sectors.

“We have worked innovatively and flexibility, to make this difficult period slightly easier for those with complex needs”

The city-wide effort includes a number of hostel and temporary accommodation providers who are supporting people with food, financial help, health enquiries and benefit assistance.

Organisations involved include Transform, Action For Children, Hillcrest Futures, Dundee Survival Group, the Salvation Army and Dundee Women’s Aid.

Meanwhile, third sector outreach work for those rough sleeping or begging is being provided by Positive Steps, Eagles Wings, Steeple Parish Nurses and the Health and Homeless Outreach Team.

Other partners from the multi-agency response include Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership, Tayside Council on Alcohol, Police Scotland, Xplore Dundee, Hillcrest Futures and WRASAC

Meanwhile, the council has funded a support worker for Dundee Women’s Aid through its rapid rehousing transition plan.

The council has also established a team with partners in health, Police Scotland, Department for Work and Pensions, criminal justice and the third sector to develop a co-ordinated approach to manage the early prisoner release programme.

Councillor Rendall said: “We are aware of prisoners who have been released early, and have no home to return to in the city. This is something we would be doing on a regular basis under normal circumstances anyway under our statutory duties, but there is a real urgency to this work during the pandemic.

“Not all prisoners who are released will require temporary accommodation but it is vital support is in place for this programme to be successful.”

Dundee City Council

Dundee draws skilled workers from a 60-minute catchment population of 640,000 and has a local population of over 140,000. The availability of a large pool of highly skilled labour is a key feature in the Dundee economy. Flexibility in the labour force is currently more prevalent in Dundee than in Scotland as a whole. All forms of labour market flexibility - part-time, temporary employment, self-employment and shift work - are widely operational within the city. Labour force stability in the city is excellent, enabling companies to plan with confidence. Labour turnover levels are less than 5% and absenteeism averages 2%.

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