Action to help rough sleepers and contacts with the Home Office

Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

I would like to make it very clear that Redbridge council has not and will not give information that would help identify rough sleepers (Information homeless people give to charities is used to deport them, 16 October).

The protection of vulnerable individuals who come to the council or our outreach support for help is absolutely paramount, and the only basis on which information would be shared is when we have explicit consent from the person concerned.

I also want to stress that no Home Office surgeries have been held as part of any of our rough sleeping initiatives or in any of our shelters.

We have a duty to protect and support those who find themselves on the street, including those with no recourse to public funds, and we are working exceptionally hard to break the cycle of street homelessness and prevent needless suffering.

This includes trying to ensure all those with a history of rough sleeping have safe and secure accommodation and continuing to support them to find longer-term, sustainable housing. In the last year we have tripled our outreach support, opened a second night shelter, invested in the Housing First service to provide more accommodation, funded legal advice on immigration issues and appointed a dedicated officer to work closely with key partners such as local health services, third-sector organisations and charities.

Cllr Farah Hussain

Cabinet member for housing and homelessness, Redbridge council

• Your article about the eviction of rough sleepers from Westminster underground station unhelpfully links this with the concerns raised about their welfare and sleeping conditions by the Speaker’s chaplain, Rose Hudson-Wilkin (Rough sleepers blame parliament chaplain for loss of tunnel ‘home’, 18 October). Rose did not ask for the eviction to happen, and she has said that moving people on does not help those sleeping rough or resolve the issue of homelessness.

It is often churches and people of faith who are at the forefront of offering help, but for all of us who work in and around Westminster encountering people who are homeless on a daily basis is a constant reminder of the need to do more, and to address the bigger issues too. I regret, as I know does Rose, that the authorities chose to take this action against those sleeping rough in the station, and hope a better resolution can be found that respects their dignity and welfare and acknowledges that they are a part of our community here.
Richard Chapman
Head of parliamentary affairs, Church of England

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