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Birmingham City Council and Aston Villa Foundation host networking event for homeless sector

Representatives from Birmingam City Council, Aston Villa Foundation and MHCLG at event
Published: Friday, 7th February 2020

Today at Villa Park, Birmingham City Council and the Aston Villa Foundation hosted a conference to recognise the hard work being provided to those sleeping rough by faith and community organisations.

The event saw over 100 people from across 40 different organisations coming together. Conversation was focused around the support that is currently being offered; examples of some of the fantastic work being carried out to keep people safe, fed and healthy while they are living out on the streets and; discussion around how to improve what is already in place.

The day also saw representatives from the council, its commissioned services and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government explaining some of their work to date that focuses on preventing homelessness and which allows people to move off the streets and into accommodation such as the Housing First pilot.

Cllr John Cotton, cabinet member for social inclusion, community safety and equalities at Birmingham City Council said, “Across Birmingham, there’s a wealth of information and activities that are happening which everyday provide support to our city’s rough sleepers. And it’s through some of this work that we’re finally starting to see a positive impact in the number of people sleeping out on the streets.

“However, while we are all working to the same aim, no single group or organisation can end rough sleeping by themselves and it can’t be done in isolation. We must come together so that we can better support those who are suffering. I’m really proud of the way people from across Birmingham have today put those people first and have learnt from one another. That’s exactly what we need more of and most importantly, we need to keep talking and exchanging information.

Paisley Hipkiss, events co-ordinator at the Aston Villa Foundation said, “The homeless networking event is a great opportunity to get all services, charities and organisations in one room to discuss how we can work together to tackle homelessness in Birmingham. We are proud to be able to use Aston Villa as a base for these types of events.

At Aston Villa we are working to tackle hunger with our new project, Villa Kitchen. Villa Kitchen provides meals to the homeless in Birmingham, using Villa Park as a base to cook hot meals, provide cooking tutorials and holding food collections for the local foodbanks all year round. Our main aim is to support rough sleepers in getting nutritious meals by using Villa Park as a base.”

Paul Atkin from the Reach Out Network said, “Birmingham is fantastically generous city and we’ve seen that outpouring of kindness from today’s meeting. But we really need to channel that drive to help people so that all volunteers and groups have the information they need to best support people who are truly vulnerable.

“I’ve been supporting the homeless for over 20 years and in that time, the needs of people out on the streets has significantly changed but so has the support that is out there on a daily basis. But when you’re working with people who have chaotic lifestyles, timing is everything. We need to know exactly what services are open, at what times, so that we can effectively direct and signpost people to the help they need, at the moment in time when they need it. That’s why today has been so tremendously important.”

Follow the conversation on #BrumHomelessness