A new way of raising funds to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in Birmingham has been launched.
The Change Into Action campaign will allow generous Brummies and visitors to the city give to a single fund which will then be directed to those teams working on the city centre’s streets.
It is a collaboration between the West Midlands Mayor, Birmingham City Council, social landlords like Midland Heart and charities like St Basils’ and Sifa Fireside.
The aim is to shift support so it is directed into specialist charities and street teams already working to change the circumstances of rough sleepers.
It has been created as a result of the Homelessness Task Force set up by Mayor Andy Street and could be rolled out to other parts of the West Midlands in the New Year.
Chief executive Jean Templeton St Basils’ charity for homeless young people and chair of the Mayor’s Homelessness Task Force, said: “By working together across the region, across sectors and disciplines, we have the opportunity to tackle the systemic issues which contribute to homelessness and introduce ideas to prevent and design out homelessness.
“Change into Action provides the assurance that your donation will be targeted directly in a positive way to those who need it most.
“No one should feel that the streets are their best option.”
The new campaign will be promoted around the city and via social media.
Council ambassador for homelessness and tackling rough sleeping Sharon Thompson said: “Birmingham is an advocate of the multi-agency approach and has a strong history of working in partnership with charities and organisations to tackle homelessness.
“We welcome the collaborative approach between Birmingham City Council and the Combined Authority in developing and launching Change Into Action, which will direct the public’s support through to our expert teams and target help for maximum impact.”
Mayor Andy Street, who leads the West Midlands Combined Authority, said: “Rough sleeping on our streets in Birmingham is completely unacceptable and shames us as a city.
“I have been committed to tackling this issue and the West Midlands Homelessness Task Force has brought together organisations from the public sector, the voluntary sector and businesses to ‘design out’ homelessness in the region.
“Working together with Birmingham City Council, we have developed Change Into Action, a new way for people to give, and know that their donation will really make a difference to rough sleepers’ lives.”
To find out more visit the Change into Action website .
Homelessness has doubled says charity
A BIRMINGHAM day centre for the homeless has seen its workload doubled in the last five years as more an more vulnerable people arrive looking for help.
The SIFA Fireside charity in Digbeth deals with about 150 people a day helping them with a warm meal, showers, clothing and health services as well as help to find employment, training and housing.
It is celebrating its 10th anniversary at a time when its services are more in demand than ever.
Staff, volunteers and sponsors gathered to mark the anniversary with performances and stories from some of those helped by the charity over its ten years.
Chief executive Carly Jones said: “This is a hugely important erecognise the amazing contribution made by staff, volunteers and supporters who’ve helped transform the lives of people who are homeless and vulnerably housed in Birmingham.
“It’s also an opportunity to keep the spotlight on the issue of homelessness, why it continues to affect so many particularly in Birmingham and the growing need for our service; how can we work together more effectively to resolve the issue? Five years ago we would see around 70-90 people daily, now we are seeing 140-160 people every day.”
The charity was formed in 2007 through a merger between the SIFA (Supporting Independence from Alcohol) and Fireside charities. Both charities had been running since 1980 before joining forces.
In Birmingham, homelessness rates are four times the national average. 55 rough sleepers were identified on a single night in November 2016 during the official count on the city’s streets - it was a rise of 53 per cent on the previous year. Figures for the 2017 count are set to be revealed in January.