CHARITIES, faith groups, and civic chiefs have all pledged to end homelessness in Southampton, after signing a charter promising to help those affected.

The commitment will see the city council partner with voluntary groups to pool resources together and combat the issue as a collective, rather than overlapping support.

Named the Southampton Rough Sleeping and Begging Charter, it was signed by members, including Itchen MP Royston Smith and charity heads, at a special event last night held during the Beds, Begging and Business conference in Central Baptist Church.

Key points in the document include calling on local businesses, groups, and residents to work together to end homelessness in the city; coordinating support and help given by those groups; creating more bed spaces; developing an alternative giving scheme; and ensuring anyone sleeping rough, or is homeless, is treated with respect and dignity.

The cross-body pledge is one of the first in the country, and looks to follow Manchester’s framework.

The north-west city set up the charter in 2016 in a bid to help the hundreds of people sleeping on the streets.

However, as reported, many had questioned its value, suggesting nothing has changed in the city. But, when he took office last year, Manchester’s mayor Andy Burnham said solving the homeless and rough sleeping issue was one of his top priorities - and vowed to continue the work of the charter.

Now civic chiefs in Southampton have also pledged to use the new charter to help those sleeping rough.

Cabinet member for homes and communities, Councillor Satvir Kaur, said: “Homelessness and rough sleeping is a growing national issue. Here in Southampton, we believe no-one should need to sleep rough or beg, and work hard to prevent, support and enable those that find themselves in often helpless situations.

“This charter is an important and exciting step forward towards seeking a Southampton solution to tackling rough sleeping, based on strong partnership working where everyone has a part to play. With lots of factors creating homelessness, I am pleased we as a city are coming together to try to address it.”

As part of the partnership, a new Street Support website for the city has been launched, to allow locals to find help, as well as support groups and charities to apply to share resources.

Dave Shields, city councillor for Freemantle – who has helped to put the charter together, said: “It is tremendous to see the charter.

“Ultimately we want to make sure that we can provide help to both prevent homelessness and also support those at risk.

“Groups and charities want to work together but sometimes the communication is not that great, hopefully the charter will help to make working together easier, so more people can be helped.

“We want to also work with the media and wider public to encourage them to support the charter.

“Sometimes people want to give their time and money to help, but are unsure who to go to. This charter and partnership will help to guide people.”

So far 19 groups have signed up to the charter, including City Life Church, The Salvation Army, The Society of St James, Southampton Voluntary Services, Southampton Sunday Lunch Project, and EU Welcome.

City Life Church leader, Paul Woodman, said: “Our vision is for Southampton to be a city where no one needs to sleep rough or beg. To achieve this, we are inviting others to join with us in tackling the problem.

“Too often, we are duplicating services or missing gaps that exist, our aim with the Southampton charter is to encourage better co-ordination in this area.”

The website can be found at: