A West Midlands campaign to take rough sleepers off the streets has helped get 750 people into accommodation.

According to Birmingham City Council, generous public donations totalling more than £280,000 have helped provide much-needed support and protection for those sleeping rough on streets in the region. The initiative is part of the year-round Change into Action alternative giving campaign.

This week sees the launch of the annual winter campaign to remind local people of the importance of helping to locate people experiencing homelessness so they can be connected to support services and helped to move off the streets and into accommodation.

To raise awareness about this year’s seasonal campaign, Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), visited the Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham with Cllr Jayne Francis, Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for housing and homelessness, to hand out leaflets to stallholders, other local businesses and shoppers.

Festive shoppers and visitors to the popular market have the chance to make donations to Change into Action with a simple swipe of a bank card or smartphone.

Two contactless points set up by the Colmore Business Improvement District (BID) are located at 200 Degrees Coffee Shop on Colmore Row and at Snowhill Station.

Details of how to donate in other areas of the region, and how to help locate people rough sleeping can be found on the Change into Action website.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) said:

“At this time of year, our thoughts and prayers often turn to the circumstances of the less fortunate. We know that conditions during the winter period present the greatest risks to the health of people who sleep rough and that is why we are working in close collaboration with our local authority and wider partners to ensure that every effort is made to connect individuals with appropriate services to meet their needs and support them to move away from sleeping on the streets for good.

“Any rough sleeper is one too many, but in recent years we have made good progress in helping society’s most vulnerable – with the number of rough sleepers in the West Midlands now almost half what it was five years ago.

“Part of the reason this has been made possible is thanks to the generosity of citizens in this region, who have donated more than £280,000 to Change into Action since its launch. And this winter we are asking again that if people are in a position to do so then they continue supporting the campaign, so that together we can ensure there is a route off the streets for every single person who finds themselves there.”

Part of the work of the WMCA’s Homelessness Taskforce, Change into Action is a regional alternative giving campaign, which encourages people to make an online donation rather than giving money to people asking for change on the streets.

It was launched as a pilot in Birmingham in 2017 and subsequently rolled out across Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, and Walsall, with Wolverhampton having a similar scheme called Alternative Giving CIO.

“All donations collected throughout the year personally benefit a person sleeping rough with trusted local charities and street teams working with individuals to identify those things that can really make a change to their personal circumstances,” a statement campaign organisers read.

“The money raised so far in generous donations has supported around 750 individuals to move away from rough sleeping.”

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