A NEW initiative to tackle homelessness and end rough sleeping for good has been launched by Network Rail, British Transport Police and the Department for Transport.
Network Rail is to work with five charity partners as part of the initiative, entitled Routes out of Homelessness, and there will be various events to support the efforts. Murals are also being displayed at Network Rail stations from today.
Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said: ‘We know that homelessness is a real problem and many vulnerable people are drawn to the rail network. We are committed to working with communities and charities to improve how we work together to address the challenges involved in supporting some of the country's most marginalised people.’
Transport secretary Grant Shapps added: ‘Everybody should have the safety, comfort and security of a home. For those sleeping rough in our railway stations, particularly as we approach winter, life can be cold, challenging and uncertain.
‘This new charter demonstrates the rail industry is committed to taking meaningful action. Having helped take StreetLink online with the popular app as Housing Minister, I’m delighted that it will now be used to increase reporting of rough sleeping in order to rapidly bring expert help to those who are vulnerable.
‘We must fight homelessness on all fronts, and I am proud the railways are playing their part in our ultimate ambition of ending rough sleeping within this Parliament.’
The police inevitably become involved in the problem of helping homeless people, and BTP assistant chief constable Charlie Doyle said homelessness was a very important issue to BTP. He continued: ‘We welcome this charter to galvanise the collective efforts of Industry, police and partners to support often the most vulnerable people with a route out of homelessness.
‘As part of our commitment to this cause we continue to work with industry and charitable partners to support outreach provision and our officers and staff are encouraged to use the StreetLink app in the course of their patrols. In addition I would encourage the travelling public to download and use the App to sign-post when and where they see those in need of help. This simple action may change someone’s life.’
The outreach programme is being piloted by Shelter at Manchester Piccadilly and includes new teams at stations who will offer support to those in need. It will also be launched at Birmingham New Street in December and further stations next year.
Meanwhile, murals representing each of the charities were being unveiled today at Glasgow Central, Leeds, London Charing Cross and Manchester Piccadilly ahead of World Homeless Day on Saturday.