Positive action being taken in wake of deaths of vulnerable homeless people in Calderdale

Recommendations in a report into the deaths of five vulnerable homeless men are turning into action, councillors have been told.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 12:00 pm

Calderdale Council’s Adults, Health and Social Care Scrutiny Board were receiving a progress update on recommendations made in the Burnt Bridges report considered the deaths of the men in a four month period in late 2018 and early 2019.

Back in March, when scrutiny board members first debated the Burnt Bridges report, shocked and angry councillors believed the men had been let down and in the future services had to work more closely together to offer practical support and try and ensure tragedies like this did not happen again.

Coun Mike Barnes (Lab, Skircoat) wanted to know what changes people in this position have seen and what benefits have been seen.

Coun Megan Swift (Lab, Town)

“Would you say they are in a better position now than before? Sometimes we need to look at it from their point of view,” he said.

Niamh Cullen, of NHS Calderdale, assured councillors this was the case, with improvements including an eight-bed unit.

“Their voices are very present and without their voices, this will never work.”

Councillors also wanted to be as sure as they could that vulnerable people were not disappearing out of view.

Ms Cullen said “we look for them” and said partners acted on intelligence, including from phone calls.

Councillors had heard about a number of projects under way and ongoing work to help people who might find themselves in difficulty, acknowledging working with them is challenging, involving complex needs and often trauma, alcohol and substance abuse issues.

Agencies ranging from health services to the police were working much more closely together – a multi-discipline, responsive, agile, integrated approach had been developed and put into action, they heard.

Best practice at other authorities was also being studied.

Coun Megan Swift (Lab, Town) said she was expecting more from the report and she reiterated concerns about councillors being kept informed about what was happening.

But Coun Josh Fenton-Glynn (Lab, Calder) said he wanted to push back against the idea not much had been done.

Work included establishment of the eight-bed unit, although some improvements were more tangible than others, he said.

Councillors will continue to receive reports monitoring progress.