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to think that a council CEO should give a dam about local homelessness?

(13 Posts)
Sioned11 Thu 03-Dec-15 19:22:54

Finally, after weeks and weeks of obfuscation from local council officers, wrote to the council CEO to ask him to look into the issue. Got email back straightaway from his PA saying he was out for the day but would respond when he got back. 5 weeks passed - not a word. A week ago wrote back to the PA, copying him in to say that I really would appreciate a response. Not a word.

The story is this. Saw a clearly very hungry, ill & homeless man in the city centre - - bought him a bag of food, asked him if he was OK. He showed me a massive wound (wasn't pleasant). On way back to work, saw couple of local council officers (learnt later they were community enforcement officers) & approached them to tell them about this man who was very close-by. There's a walk-in surgery nearby - perhaps they could have liaised with it? I didn't know but I wanted to let someone 'in authority' know in case they could help or advise. As soon as I started talking, one simply walked away - said nothing. The other could not have sounded more disinterested if she'd tried. Total indifference.

Eventually, after weeks of delay, got reply to an email about the behaviour of these officers and, what was even more important for me, the welfare of this man who often sleeps in the doorway where I first saw him. The reply was a non-event - brushing this aside with something like 'I've reminded my officers of the need to be helpful as far as the public are concerned'. Decided to escalate to CEO - it was the sheer level of indifference both to the plight of the homeless man himself and my correspondence aimed at bringing what I felt was completely inappropriate behaviour to the Council's attention that prompted me to write to the CEO. No response.

I don't want to go down the council's complaints route but maybe I should? I just want to be assured that members of the public will have their concerns taken seriously by community officers, the council as a whole and that the council does actually give a dam about the homeless and sick on its streets. AIBU?

TiredButFineODFOJ Thu 03-Dec-15 19:27:13

You do need to go down the complaints route. As you have found, unless something is logged on their system it will get lost.
However the council isn't always the best contact in this type of situation (although they should have been able to advise you) organisations such as no second night out, crisis or a local charity would be your best bet to ensure this man was on the radar of an outreach worker who can try to engage with him and encourage him to seek medical attention etc.

chantico Thu 03-Dec-15 19:27:25

I thought community enforcement officers meant traffic wardens.

If so, no, I wouldn't expect them to be able to assist, any more than anyone else who happened to be on the pavement at the time.

Sioned11 Thu 03-Dec-15 19:33:24

These officers work for environmental health with a brief to get involved in wider community issues - to be visible, 'public facing'. It's the indifference of, first the two I spoke to, their line manager and now the CEO that I find very difficult. This was an exceptionally ill person.

Thank you TiredButFineODFOJ. These are useful contacts and ideas.

StrawberryMouse Thu 03-Dec-15 19:33:25

Some of this could also be due to confidentiality issues. In my area there is a homeless woman who generates quite a bit of interest from the general public and I know local newspapers etc have been involved, none of whom know the person's actual story and how many times the council, local charities etc have tried to offer help and support to no avail. If people don't want to engage then they can't be made to and as this is an individual case, the other side can't be put across with any transparency as nobody is allowed to comment.

Kettlesingsatnight Thu 03-Dec-15 19:35:07

How did you know he was hungry?

Birdsgottafly Thu 03-Dec-15 19:35:22

""I thought community enforcement officers meant traffic wardens.""

No, they are there to focus on community matters, primarily.
This is taken from their job description.

""They engage with vulnerable people at risk, directing them to services that will help with accommodation, food and addiction services where needed.""

They should of responded and she should make an official complaint.

Them not doing their job, could be a matter of life and death.

Birdsgottafly Thu 03-Dec-15 19:39:50

""How did you know he was hungry?""

Perhaps she asked him and that's why she bought him food?

Irrelevant, though, the Officers have failed to exercise their Duty of Care, that is part of why they were set up.

Even if they have seen the man before, if someone reports an injury, then they should check it out, especially with the changing weather.

Two homeless people in my city was found dead, last Winter, they'd been dead for at least a day, people had just walked past.

OddSocksHighHeels Thu 03-Dec-15 19:40:49

The best way to get help is to call outreach and say where the homeless person is sleeping. St Mungo's are far better than no second night out for this IME.

That being said, I assume the man knows where the nearest medical help is. He may well have decided, for whatever reason, to not seek help.

Sioned11 Thu 03-Dec-15 19:45:50

Birdsgottafly - thank you. Having been passed from pillar to post, with several weeks passing before a single email was answered, I found that that is indeed the job description of the officers. The fact that they are not, apparently, expected to be first aid trained was the sole reason that I given for their not taking any interest.

Even if they had no duty of care, their utter indifference and the council's attitude, down now, it would seem, to the CEO himself, is pretty shocking and, yes, I think I will go down the complaint route.

Birdsgottafly Thu 03-Dec-15 19:59:36

The issue for me would be that if a already Vulnerable/Street Sleeper gets an infection, they can become confused, in a similar way that elderly people's mental and physical health are interlinked.

So whilst he may at first refuse interventions, he should be being monitored.

It's fine for posters "to assume that the man knows we're the medical Center is", but the CO's should be checking, because that's what they are paid for.

The only question is, "should an essential service be complained about, when they don't carry out that service?".

But then slapping a fine on someone dropping litter and watching CCTV footage, is probably a lot more pleasant.

TiredButFineODFOJ Sat 05-Dec-15 02:52:56

St Mungo's don't operate in every borough in the UK- that's why I named the nationwide organisations, but they may well be in your area, I don't know.
If the indifference aspect bothers you, certainly log a complaint. Or if you're feeling really assertive, attend a council meeting and ask a question directly of whichever counsellor covers health/adult safeguarding/housing whatever it is.
At the least the enforcement officers should be "keeping an eye" on Mr Homeless, but yes it really would make a difference to him if they made a point of stopping for a chat with him each day and encouraging him to go to the local outreach/soup kitchen.
People are awful sometimes

tootiredtoknow Sat 05-Dec-15 14:52:17

Locally, if there is somebody sleeping rough/going through a difficult time due to house fire or whatever we usually band together as a local community to help get the person off the streets. Most recently we have helped a homeless ex soldier off the streets, into a flat. He now has a job and is supporting himself. I personally would use my time to help the man rather than complaining about useless pen pushing jobsworths at the council.

No it isn't your responsibility to help the man and yes there should be processes in place. However these things take months and years to address. In the meantime, there is a man homeless on the streets.

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