Five men who tragically died after living on the streets of Halifax will be discussed by Calderdale Council’s Cabinet after the publication of a review by Calderdale Safeguarding Adults Board.
The findings of the thematic review are published in ‘Burnt Bridges?’, a report which explores the men’s lives, the events which led to their deaths and recommends where lessons can be learned to prevent further deaths.
Although there was no requirement for a review to be undertaken, the circumstances of the deaths, which occurred within a four month period during the winter of 2018-19, led the Council to request an investigation into what had happened and what action could be taken to reduce the chance of similar things happening again.
Cllr Tim Swift, Leader of Calderdale Council said:
“Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the men, referred to in the report as Peter, Jason, Lenny, Pat and Zeb, who were valued members of our community.
“The report is difficult and sometimes harrowing to read, but it is a significant piece of work which highlights the challenges which each of these men faced. Each had multiple and complex needs, such as mental ill health, trauma or drug and alcohol misuse, which made it more difficult for services to respond to them with the care and support they needed.
“This is clear within the recommendations of the report and has been acknowledged by each of the organisations involved, the Council, our NHS, Police and housing colleagues. Collectively we can and must do better.
“The pandemic has already created a fundamental shift in the Council’s response to rough sleeping and homelessness and we will continue to transform the way that our services are delivered so that they are designed for and are more responsive to the people who they support.
“The role of the Health and Wellbeing Board will be to make sure that all of the report’s recommendations are fully implemented, by the Council and partner agencies, to protect lives in the future.”
The report made recommendations in four main areas:
- For those organisations working with people living street-based lives to have a shared understanding of multiple and complex needs as they experience some of the greatest inequalities in our society.
- Review access to health, social care and other services to make sure that they meet the needs of people within this group.
- Ensure people have access to suitable accommodation and seek long term funding for homeless support services to provide stability rather than rely on short term piecemeal funding.
- Develop a system to identify and support those people who are at significant risk of developing multiple complex needs so that when an individual’s mental and physical health, social and housing needs are deteriorating, this is recognised and that a coordinated, multi-agency response prevents further decline.
Much has already been done to improve and strengthen service delivery in Calderdale because of the report, including:
- Craven Mount, an 8-bed multiple and complex need housing project, opened in May 2021;
- Housing and Homelessness services are leading work with many different agencies and a private landlord to tackle ‘hot spot’ areas with a concentration of problems; and
- Additional funding from Public Health England in April 2021 has allowed Calderdale Council to recruit additional posts to support the improvement of services for those with complex needs with a focus on harm reduction.
‘Burnt Bridges’ is available to view on the Council website and will be published on the Calderdale Safeguarding Adults Board website at www.safeguarding.calderdale.gov.uk/
The report will be discussed at the meeting of Calderdale Council’s Cabinet on Monday 7 June from 6pm at Halifax Town Hall.