THE Salvation Army has confirmed that it will continue funding its 'early intervention' rough sleepers programme in York itself until the end of March – and said it was having ‘productive conversations’ with City of York Council about how funding might continue after that.

In response to claims in a pulled council report that the council’s in-house Navigators programme was a more effective way of tackling homelessness than the Salvation Army approach, it has also provided details of the number of rough sleepers it helps, and the impact the programme makes on their lives.

The council controversially ended its £95,000-a-year funding contract for the Salvation Army to provided the rough sleeping service last September. The authority said it had decided to prioritise its own Navigators rough sleeping programme instead.

York Press: The Salvation Army's Charlie Malarkey speaking to a rough sleeper living in a tent in YorkThe Salvation Army's Charlie Malarkey speaking to a rough sleeper living in a tent in York (Image: Stephen Lewis)

Since then, the Salvation Army has continued to fund the programme itself - but it is unclear whether it will continue to do so beyond March.

Malcolm Page, the Salvation Army’s Assistant Territorial Director for Homelessness Services said: “Tonight and every night, there will be people in York sleeping on the streets and our focus is trying to ensure they always have help.

“To ensure these vulnerable people have consistency of support we have been funding the York Outreach service ourselves since September and will do so until end of March. We are having productive conversations with the City of York Council about how funding will continue from then.

“We continue to run a drop-in from our Lawrence Street building which provides a warm space, food bank, access to internet and television.


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“Boxing and exercise classes are also being provided to improve people’s physical and mental health. Our church in York, which operates from Burton Green Primary School, also provides practical and spiritual support for the community.”

Mr Page said that, for almost 20 years, the Salvation Army’s dedicated Early Intervention and Prevention Service team in York had been carrying out early morning street walks up to five days a week.

York Press: A cup of tea and a chat at the Salvation Army's drop-in centre on Lawrence StreetA cup of tea and a chat at the Salvation Army's drop-in centre on Lawrence Street (Image: Stephen Lewis)

It also runs a drop-in service providing clothing, sleeping bags and signposting to help clients access benefits, housing, medical and mental health support.

The Salvation Army has provided details about how many rough sleepers it helped in 2022 – the last full year its £95,000 contract was funded by the city council.

In 2022 alone, it says:

• 676 people engaged with as part of rough sleeper street outreach activity undertaken in the past year • 175 client contacts made at the Lawrence Street Hub on average each month

• 18 people on average were supported each month with emergency accommodation needs

• 14 people on average each month were referred into supported accommodation

• 88 per cent of those people who have been referred into supported accommodation 'progress to achieving a positive outcome in that they are able to maintain a good standard of health and wellbeing by sustaining their status in supported accommodation, whilst also moving into employment/training opportunities and living independently'

The Salvation Army also provided and managed the NAPpad - four self-contained units which offered a safe and warm environment to help get people off the streets.

Mr Page said he accepted that York, like other local authorities, was under intense financial pressure.

“At the same time need is growing,” he said. “This in turn means that services and funding has to change too.

“We have been innovating and adapting our homeless support for over 150 years and working in York for nearly 20 years. What will never change is our mission to ensure everyone has fullness of life. “We continue to campaign nationally for the Government to ensure local authorities have the funding and guidance they need to meet their obligations to end rough sleeping.

“The best way to end homelessness is to prevent it by dealing with the root causes, properly funding support services that deal with mental health and addiction issues and ensuring that everyone has access to a suitable place to live.”