17 Jul 2019

Statement: Rough sleepers’ personal data

Cllr Diarmaid Ward Executive Member for Housing and Development, said:

“Rough sleeping is a complex issue, and the council’s priority will always be getting people into safe, secure accommodation and giving them the support they need to move off the streets.  We work with a number of partners and specialist agencies to offer a range of tailored support to anyone rough sleeping in Islington, including St Mungo’s, Thamesreach, the Single Homelessness Project (SHP), the Pillion Trust, CARIS Islington and Streets Kitchen, among others. Our support offer includes help with drink and drug addictions, mental health support, and specialist supported accommodation. We will continue to look at innovative ways to help people into safe and secure accommodation, and help them into pathways off the streets.

“The work we do to assist rough sleepers is based on trust. The success of our work depends on our ability to gain, nurture and maintain the trust of the rough sleepers we work with, who are often extremely vulnerable, hesitant to seek help, and sometimes traumatised.

“Islington will not be cooperating with the Home Office enforcement teams in sharing the personal data of rough sleepers. We also ask our partner agencies not to do so, and we have been unequivocal in our opposition to this practice. We do assist people experiencing homelessness to return to their home countries, where in most cases a greater range of support is available. However, we have been clear that referrals to the Home Office should only take place after a person has received legal advice, and has given their full, free and informed consent.

"To that end, in addition to other forms of support the council now employs a ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF) case worker. The NRPF case worker offers one-to-one advice and support for people from outside the UK who are rough sleeping in Islington, to help the person move away from the streets with the range of support that is available, without referral to the Home Office.

“We have full confidence in the professionalism, expertise, and dedication of our outreach teams, and we will not compromise the success of their work by encouraging them to participate in the hostile environment.”

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