THE Salvation Army continues to work with rough sleepers in York as temperatures plummet – even though its funding contract with the city council has officially come to an end.

In a statement released to The Press the charity said that conversations were continuing with ‘City of York Council and other agencies’ on the future of its rough sleeping programme in York.

But a spokesperson confirmed: “For now, The Salvation Army is continuing to operate our early intervention and outreach service in Lawrence Street so we can support rough sleepers and the vulnerably housed.”

The council’s Labour executive member for housing and homelessness, Cllr Michael Pavlovic, confirmed today that discussions with the Salvation Army were continuing.

“Despite the ending of the council’s previous contract with Salvation Army… we want the council to continue having a positive working relationship with the organisation,” he said.

York Press: Labour housing and homelessness chief Cllr Michael PavlovicLabour housing and homelessness chief Cllr Michael Pavlovic (Image: Supplied)

“Salvation Army has provided significant support to rough sleepers in York for many years and the council remains in discussion over how we can both work together in the future as part of our shared goal to end rough sleeping in the city.”

The news comes as calls grow for the council to unveil details of its planned new homelessness and rough sleeping strategy urgently – before temperatures drop further.

Lib Dem Cllr Christian Vassie, who sits on the health, housing and adult social care scrutiny committee which met on October 18, said he was ‘frustrated at the management failure to produce a report on homelessness that had been requested and agreed months ago’.

“The corporate director is promising a report will come to the meeting on November 13 but we are all concerned because time does not wait for this urgent issue that affects some of the most vulnerable people in our city,” he said.

“Temperatures have dropped 15 degrees in the past week.

“We have asked for an earlier meeting and are seeking reassurances that there will be no cut in the services offered to rough sleepers between now and the meeting, whenever that meeting happens.”

York Press: temperatures are plummeting - making life even harder for those living on the streetstemperatures are plummeting - making life even harder for those living on the streets (Image: Agency)

Cllr Pavlovic confirmed the authority was working on a new homelessness and rough sleeper strategy which would have ‘input from all stakeholders and service users’.

“We plan to announce shortly how the process for developing this strategy will work,” he said. 


York's streets at 5am: meeting the city's rough sleepers

Fury at York council for ending Salvation Army funding

Council to 'continue working' with Salvation Army on rough sleepers

As reported in The Press, the council announced in September that it would not be renewing its £95,000-a year funding contract with the Salvation Army.

The money helped to pay for the charity’s five-day-a-week early morning rounds to check on rough sleepers, and for its daily drop-in service in St Lawrence Street.

York Press: The Salvation Army's Charlie Malarkey checking on a rough sleeper in YorkThe Salvation Army's Charlie Malarkey checking on a rough sleeper in York (Image: Stephen Lewis)

Instead, the council said it would be using an extra £260,000 of government funding over the next two years to expand its own team of rough sleeping ‘navigators’, and to start its own drop-in service for rough sleepers, five mornings a week at the Peasholme Centre hostel on Fishergate.

It said it would also use the new government funding to expand its ‘housing first’ programme, under which rough sleepers are given help to find permanent housing and then ‘wraparound’ support to ensure they are able to stay in their new homes.

But the authority has since confirmed that, while its contract with the Salvation Army has ended, it is continuing to talk with the charity about 'working together' to tackle homelessness.

How did we get here?

The council’s contract with the Salvation Army to fund the charity's rough sleeping programme was originally due to end at the end of March this year.

Denise Craghill, who was the Green executive member for housing under the previous Lib Dem/ Green administration, agreed to extend the contract for six months under a special legal waiver.

She told The Press this week that while the council had managed to secure a much larger pot of government funding following a cash bid, this funding did not cover the Salvation Army contract.

York Press: Denise CraghillDenise Craghill (Image: Supplied)

“There was a need to transition the service to focus even more than previously on providing one-to-one continuous support to help street sleepers back into permanent tenancies, for example through the council's very successful Housing Navigators,” she said.

Nevertheless, she insisted, the previous administration had wanted to ‘explore… ways of continuing to work with the Salvation Army’ – hence the six-month contract extension.

But when that six-month extension came to an end last month, the new Labour administration said it could not offer a further substantial extension for legal reasons.

Instead, it decided to end the contract – while offering a single month’s extension to allow for a ‘transition period’.

In the event, that one month contract extension was never signed – meaning the contract has now officially ended.

York Press: Cllr Darryl SmalleyCllr Darryl Smalley (Image: Supplied)

Lib Dem housing spokesman Cllr Councillor Darryl Smalley said that as far as he knew there had been nothing to stop the Labour administration from issuing a further contract extension ‘so that homeless people aren’t left without the support they need this winter.’

The authority could also have chosen to put the contract out to tender so that services did not have to stop, he added.