Go! Southampton staff and board members were among more than 70 stakeholders who came together to discuss rough sleeping and homelessness in Southampton at the ‘Beds, Begging & Business’ conference on 19/20 November. The conversation was organised to look afresh at issues of street homelessness – as well as aggressive begging – in the city.
After an intensive day of discussion the participants agreed to set up a number of groups to move forward the programme. They include efforts to increase the bed supply – both short term and longer term – and co-ordinating the efforts of churches and other voluntary organisations. There is also a wider aspiration for there to be a joint ‘charter’ or statement of intent, to which some or all the participants could sign up.
Go! Southampton vice-chair Spencer Bowman was present at the conference and commented: “It has been our view since the BID started that there needs to be a serious ‘joining-up’ in the city’s approach to homelessness. Given the extent of the problem here and in the country more widely, we all need to be pulling together. While the BID remains keen to mitigate the impact of rough sleeping and begging on our member businesses, we are not unsympathetic to the root causes. We made it clear at the conference that we will do our bit to get homeless people back on their feet.”
A follow-up meeting of the wider group has been scheduled for April.