London Councils, the local government association for Greater London, has appointed a new director of its rough sleeping programme.
Michelle Binfield, who will start in the role in August, will co-ordinate London’s efforts to secure long-term accommodation for rough sleepers and prevent them from having to return to the streets.
She will work in partnership with London local authorities, the Greater London Authority, central government, health services and the voluntary sector to build on the progress made on rough sleeping during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her role will be based at London Councils and jointly funded by the London Housing Directors’ Group and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Michelle Binfield said: “No one should have to resort to sleeping on the streets. I’m determined to see London make faster progress in helping rough sleepers into accommodation and giving them the support they need to move on from rough sleeping.
“This will be an immense challenge, but I’m incredibly excited by the opportunity to work with partners across the capital and to make a real difference in rough sleepers’ lives.”
Binfield has experience of working on rough sleeping in London, having previously worked as lead commissioner for the Pan-London Rough Sleeper Substance Misuse Programme and Lambeth Council’s associate director for commissioning public health and social care.
London faces major homelessness pressures, with the capital and the South East accounting for almost half of all rough sleepers in England according to the government’s latest rough sleeping snapshot.
Following the government’s “Everyone In” initiative, around 5,000 former rough sleepers in London are now in settled accommodation. Around 2,500 people remain in short-term emergency accommodation such as hostels, while hundreds more remain on the streets.
London Councils aims to continue improving outcomes for rough sleepers and match the government’s goal of ending rough sleeping by 2024.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ executive member for housing & planning, said: “Rough sleeping isn’t inevitable and London’s response to the pandemic and the ‘Everyone In’ directive shows how quickly things can change for the better.
“This new post will play a key role in co-ordinating strategy and driving forward our shared ambition to end rough sleeping altogether.”
Eddie Hughes MP, minster for rough sleeping and housing, said: “Tackling rough sleeping in London is key to meeting the government’s commitment to end rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament, and we have committed over £750 million this year to achieve this, including funding towards this post.
“The Programme Director role will play a crucial part in achieving our shared ambition. I congratulate Michelle on her appointment and look forward to working with her, and other London partners, to build on the huge success of the ‘Everyone In’ initiative and provide rough sleepers with a route off the street for good.”
Jamie Carswell, co-chair of the London Housing Directors’ Group, said: “With her steadfast commitment to supporting rough sleepers and her years of experience in homelessness services across London, Michelle was the ideal candidate for this important new role.
“Reducing rough sleeping in London requires a wide range of partners all working together. As programme director, Michelle will be integral to successful collaboration in the capital and our pan-London efforts to achieve the best possible outcomes for rough sleepers.”
Tom Copley, London’s deputy mayor for housing and residential development, said: “London’s response to rough sleeping during the pandemic saved the lives of hundreds of vulnerable people and demonstrated what we can do when national government, local government, health services and charities work together to tackle this crisis.
“However, there are still far too many people sleeping rough on the streets of London and I look forward to working closely with Michelle in her new role as we continue to push towards ending homelessness in London for good.”
Image: London Councils aims to end rough sleeping in the capital by 2024. Credit: London Councils.