Calderdale leaders agree to learn from harrowing street based lives report and take action

Senior councillors have agreed Calderdale Council should accept the learning included in a harrowing report into the deaths of five homeless men several years ago.

Friday, 11th June 2021, 11:45 am

The men, referred to in the report as Peter, Jason, Lenny, Pat and Zeb, died within a four month period during the winter of 2018-19 and this led to Calderdale Council requesting a report into the issues, produced by Calderdale Safeguarding Adults Board.

Recommendations and actions made in Burnt Bridges will now inform the council’s own policies, and will require other governance groups to act on them in order to improve the multi-agency support, interventions and outcomes for people who live street based lives.

It is envisaged that strategic groups should report to Calderdale Health and Wellbeing Board.

Independent chair of Calderdale Safeguarding Adults Board, Marianne Huison

Cabinet also agreed to recommend the full Calderdale Council approves a strategy and associated action plan for homelessness and rough sleeping.

Independent chair of Calderdale Safeguarding Adults Board, Marianne Huison, said the report sought to improve the care and outcomes for people with complex and multiple needs to prevent issues going unaddressed.

For example, four out of the five men had issues with drugs and alcohol, which in some cases masked the help they needed for underlying problems, says the report.

In line with the council’s Vision2024 aims, it would improve people’s lives and allow them to live a larger life.

She said one of the saddest things in the report was a friend of one of the men saying that the only thing which made Pat happy was taking drugs.

“We need to be more flexible in our approach and services tailored to the individual and their multiple and complex needs.

“It’s about changing the way that we work,” she said.

She said this was the start of the journey and outlined to Cabinet improvements which were already being made, including work on accommodation, and work which needed to be done.

National statistics showing the life expectancy of people who led street based lives – around 44 years for men and 42 for women, where men would normally be expected to live to 76 and women to 81 – were startling.

Cabinet member for Adult Services and Wellbeing, Coun Josh Fenton-Glynn (Lab, Calder) described the report as “staggering” and said prevention of problems escalating would be very important, with early treatment to make sure the council and partners responded in the right way.

Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot), Cabinet member for Regeneration and Strategy, said the men were sons, brothers, and said the report was “heartbreaking” – the council and partners had to make sure they delivered on this.

Coun Scott Patient (Lab, Luddenden Foot), Cabinet member for Climate Change and Resilience, said sustainable funding was going to be key and without that it could falter.