On the 11th January 2016 Baroness Grender asked the Government “what steps they are taking to reduce the number of people who are sleeping rough”. Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, asked a supplementary question.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, in my capacity as chair of the charity Housing Justice, an interest that I declare, I am very aware of the work of church and community winter night shelters. Indeed, the organisation provides a charter mark for such initiatives. In the winter of 2014-15, these shelters used some 500 church and other buildings, including mosques and synagogues, to provide winter accommodation, along with tens of thousands of volunteers who welcomed several thousand guests. Sadly, this work is expanding, although I wish it were not. Perhaps I may invite the Minister to affirm the Government’s support for initiatives such as winter shelters not simply as places of temporary shelter but, more importantly, as places where homeless people can be assisted to find longer term, permanent solutions to their circumstances.
Baroness Williams of Trafford: I am very happy to endorse what the right reverend Prelate does and the work of organisations like the church. It is absolutely vital, particularly in the cold winter months, in taking rough sleepers off the streets and giving them warmth and shelter.