First Step is a collaborative project between South Norfolk and Broadland District Councils, designed to address the needs of rough sleeping across the two districts.
Definition of rough sleeping
Rough sleeping is defined as "people sleeping, or bedded down, in the open air (such as on the streets, or in doorways, parks or bus shelters), people in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats, stations, or "bashes")". A bash is a makeshift shelter often comprised of cardboard boxes.
Rough Sleeper Coordinators
We have two Rough Sleeper Coordinators (Damien and Ben) who are able to provide a rapid response to reports of people sleeping rough.
Their role is to:
- establish contact
- assess the needs of anyone found to be rough sleeping
- provide the necessary support to engage with services
- seek more settled accommodation
You may see our Coordinators out and about across our two districts looking for rough sleepers. They'll check places that people have been known to bed down, to ensure that those who are homeless get the help they need. They can help with access to emergency accommodation as well as providing food and clothing to those who need immediate assistance.
In addition to helping customers access accommodation to get off the streets, we're able to provide support for a wide range of issues and tailor the assistance to the needs of each individual customer.
The assistance we can give may include:
- help with transport
- access to emergency accommodation
- help to access benefits and maximise income
- provision of emergency food and clothing
- verification of those who are rough sleeping
- helping customers to access housing options support to find settled accommodation
- accessing health and other social support services
- assistance to attend appointments
- other assistance specific to the needs of individual customers
Our Coordinators have access to accommodation for those verified as rough sleeping. Our aim is to help anyone rough sleeping to get off the streets immediately.
Working with a local charity we operate a Somewhere Safe to Stay (SStS) hub which has emergency crash beds for customers accessing the FIRST Step service. This is normally available for a maximum of three nights. From here we may be able to support customers into medium-term "Staging Post" accommodation while working with our Housing Solutions team to support customers into long-term, sustainable accommodation.
Access to this accommodation is available through the FIRST Steps project and our Rough Sleeper Coordinators only.
"We're very grateful for the assistance provided by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Notting Hill Genesis, Howdens Joinery, Diss Rotary Club and all our partner agencies. They're all helping us to provide a safe place to stay for those in need of emergency accommodation.
If you're rough sleeping, know someone who's rough sleeping or are concerned because you've seen someone bedded down rough sleeping in either of our Districts please contact us using the details below and we'll do our best to help.
Reports of concerns for rough sleepers can also be made on The StreetLink website.