Working together for a resilient Birmingham.

Cold Weather Provision for Rough Sleepers

Cllr Sharon Thompson, Birmingham City Council’s ambassador for addressing rough sleeping and homelessness, outlines the measures in place to support rough sleepers in the freezing cold weather.

Since the end of November 2017 our cold weather provision has been in place and will remain in place until the weather improves.

We also have a Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP) protocol, which is initiated in Birmingham whenever there is a yellow weather warning in place, or whenever temperatures have a real feel of zero degrees or below. The criteria for initiating the provision in Birmingham go beyond the Homeless Link guidance, as we base our activities on actual temperatures.

SWEP opens up rest rooms across our supported hostels.  It is particularly aimed at the most hard to reach rough sleepers to prevent them from being out in the most severe weather.  It provides a hot meal and breakfast and an opportunity to try and engage with those accessing the provision.

Access to SWEP is co-ordinated by Midland Heart, who deliver our commissioned outreach service.  This service is known as HOST (Homeless Outreach Service Team).

The SWEP can be accessed in the following ways:

  1. Via the HOST – anyone can refer individuals to this service by:

·         Phone 07483 981912

·         Website: www.streetlink.org.uk .You can use this website to send an alert to HOST about a rough sleeper.  The first time you use this website you will need to create an account.  This takes approximately 30 seconds and it is easy to use. 

2. Via Salvation Army – this service operates as an out of hours service for HOST.  It is only to be used outside of the core hours for HOST listed above.  Anyone can refer individuals to this service by phoning 0121 236 6554.  Please note that the Salvation Army operate a limited service and will signpost individuals to accommodation rather than outreach.  They will base their decision on accommodation based on current availability; location of the rough sleeper and their known risk factors.  This may involve referring them to Birmingham City Council Temporary Accommodation.

3. Via SIFA Fireside, 48 Alcock Street, Birmingham, B9 4DY – this is accessed by individuals by attending the centre and during its opening hours.

4. Via attending at the hostel – individuals can attend the accommodation providers commissioned by Birmingham City Council and request accommodation.  However, this may be subject to spaces still being available and rough sleepers may be sent to alternative providers, if already full.

In addition to the above, there are a number of voluntary providers who deliver overnight shelter provision, for example, As Suffa and the Church Night Shelter.  Midland Heart will link in with them as appropriate.

  • The Street Team Bham Twitter account @StreetTeamBham is putting out messages to make people aware of what to do if they are concerned about someone sleeping rough.

 

Government outlines next steps to make the UK the safest place to be online

The Prime Minister has announced plans to review laws and make sure that what is illegal offline is illegal online as the Government marks Safer Internet Day (6 February 2018).

  • New review launched into online laws
  • Code of practice will set new standards for online platforms
  • New guide for teachers to develop children’s online safety skills

The Prime Minister has announced plans to review laws and make sure that what is illegal offline is illegal online as the Government marks Safer Internet Day.

The Law Commission will launch a review of current legislation on offensive online communications to ensure that laws are up to date with technology.

As set out in the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper, the Government is clear that abusive and threatening behaviour online is totally unacceptable. This work will determine whether laws are effective enough in ensuring parity between the treatment of offensive behaviour that happens offline and online.

The Prime Minister has also announced:

  • That the Government will introduce a comprehensive new social media code of practice this year, setting out clearly the minimum expectations on social media companies
  • The introduction of an annual internet safety transparency report – providing UK data on offensive online content and what action is being taken to remove it.

Other announcements made today by Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Matt Hancock include:

  • A new online safety guide for those working with children, including school leaders and teachers, to prepare young people for digital life
  • A commitment from major online platforms including Google, Facebook and Twitter to put in place specific support during election campaigns to ensure abusive content can be dealt with quickly – and that they will provide advice and guidance to Parliamentary candidates on how to remain safe and secure online

DCMS Secretary of State Matt Hancock said:

We want to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online and having listened to the views of parents, communities and industry, we are delivering on the ambitions set out in our Internet Safety Strategy.

Not only are we seeing if the law needs updating to better tackle online harms, we are moving forward with our plans for online platforms to have tailored protections in place – giving the UK public standards of internet safety unparalleled anywhere else in the world.

Law Commissioner Professor David Ormerod QC said:

There are laws in place to stop abuse but we’ve moved on from the age of green ink and poison pens. The digital world throws up new questions and we need to make sure that the law is robust and flexible enough to answer them.

If we are to be safe both on and off line, the criminal law must offer appropriate protection in both spaces. By studying the law and identifying any problems we can give government the full picture as it works to make the UK the safest place to be online.

The latest announcements follow the publication of the Government’s Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper last year which outlined plans for a social media code of practice. The aim is to prevent abusive behaviour online, introduce more effective reporting mechanisms to tackle bullying or harmful content, and give better guidance for users to identify and report illegal content. The Government will be outlining further steps on the strategy, including more detail on the code of practice and transparency reports, in the spring.

To support this work, people working with children including teachers and school leaders will be given a new guide for online safety, to help educate young people in safe internet use. Developed by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS, the toolkit describes the knowledge and skills for staying safe online that children and young people should have at different stages of their lives.

Major online platforms including Google, Facebook and Twitter have also agreed to take forward a recommendation from the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) to provide specific support for Parliamentary candidates so that they can remain safe and secure while on these sites. during election campaigns. These are important steps in safeguarding the free and open elections which are a key part of our democracy.

ENDS

Note to editors:

Included in the Law Commission’s scope for their review will be the Malicious Communications Act and the Communications Act. It will consider whether difficult concepts need to be reconsidered in the light of technological change – for example, whether the definition of who a ‘sender’ is needs to be updated.

The Government will bring forward an Annual Internet Safety Transparency report, as proposed in our Internet Safety Strategy green paper. The reporting will show:

  • the amount of harmful content reported to companies
  • the volume and proportion of this material that is taken down
  • how social media companies are handling and responding to complaints
  • how each online platform moderates harmful and abusive behaviour and the policies they have in place to tackle it.

Annual reporting will help to set baselines against which to benchmark companies’ progress, and encourage the sharing of best practice between companies.

The new social media code of practice will outline standards and norms expected from online platforms. It will cover:

  • The development, enforcement and review of robust community guidelines for the content uploaded by users and their conduct online
  • The prevention of abusive behaviour online and the misuse of social media platforms – including action to identify and stop users who are persistently abusing services
  • The reporting mechanisms that companies have in place for inappropriate, bullying and harmful content, and ensuring they have clear policies and performance metrics for taking this content down
  • The guidance social media companies offer to help users identify illegal content and contact online, and advise them on how to report it to the authorities, to ensure this is as clear as possible
  • The policies and practices companies apply around privacy issues.

Education for a Connected World: A framework to equip children and young people for digital life is available on the UKCCIS page of GOV.UK.

  • Guidance is given on eight different aspects of online education: self-image and identity, online relationships, online reputation, online bullying, managing online information, health, wellbeing and lifestyle, privacy and security, and copyright and ownership.
  • The Framework has been developed by members of the UKCCIS Education Working Group.
  • UKCCIS is a group of more than 200 organisations drawn from across government, industry, law, academia and charity sectors working in partnership to help keep children safe online.
  • The UKCCIS Education Working Group brings together ten leading organisations in online safety in education:, Barnardo’s, CEOP (the child protection command of the National Crime Agency), Childnet, Department for Education, Kent County Council, the NSPCC, Parent Zone, the PSHE Association, South West Grid for Learning and the UK Safer Internet Centre. It focuses on how education settings in the UK are responding to the challenges of keeping their pupils safe online.

Supportive statements:

Jonathan Baggaley, CEO of the PSHE Association said:

We’re delighted to have supported the development of the UKCCIS framework. Education plays a critical role in preparing young people for the opportunities and challenges of this rapidly changing digital world. The UKCCIS framework provides an invaluable tool for teachers, supporting them to plan a developmental curriculum which will help children to thrive online.’

Ken Corish, Online Safety Director at South West Grid for Learning said:

Children and young people use technology in empowering and sophisticated ways in online environments that have become increasingly complex. Our approach to educating in this area requires a sophistication to match; it should resonate; be relevant and prompt the outcomes that affect cultural change.

This UKCCIS framework has been designed to identify those opportunities for anyone shaping their teaching in this area from very young children right through to young adults. It brings the current online technology landscape into one document and maps those opportunities against age/developmental stage.

We think it is both challenging and relevant and hope it assists in creating online technology education that makes a difference.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:

Barnardo’s welcomes this framework for educators to help children and young people of all ages stay safe and have a positive experience online.

The fast-moving digital world puts increasing pressures on children which can affect their self-image and make them vulnerable to potential bullying and grooming online.

This UKCISS framework should be used by the tech industry to incorporate age appropriate safeguards into their apps and platforms to help prevent abuse happening.

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Exercise TrentEx18 – Major flood exercise from the source of the Trent to the Humber

A major exercise is taking place this week (6th – 8th February 2018) that will test the response to a major flooding incident along the whole of the River Trent, the third longest river in the country. 

The scenario will test how the Environment Agency, emergency services, councils, government departments, utility companies, the Met office and the military exchange information, provide aid and test local and regional emergency plans.

The exercise is based on a period of long period of wet weather that has saturated the region, followed by an intense storm which causes significant flooding.

Local Resilience Forums from Staffordshire to Humberside will be involved alongside Strategic and Tactical co-ordination groups, with the Environment Agency injecting extra challenging scenarios for those involved along the way to keep everyone focused and ensure it challenges those involved.

Paul Lockhart, East Midlands Flood Risk Manager at the Environment Agency said: “We don’t get second chances during a major flooding incident so it is essential that we test our response through exercises like this one, to make sure every organisation can work together to do everything possible for communities when we are faced with the real thing.”

“We appreciate that major flooding events don’t take place regularly and therefore many people often don’t think about the potential consequences. It is great for the public to know that so many organisations will be looking out for them if the worst happened, but whilst we can reduce the risk of flooding, major weather events do occur which test flood defences and in the worst scenarios overwhelm them. 

“Flooding is dangerous and can happen very quickly. The effects can be devastating. There are a number of things you can do to prepare for flooding to keep yourself and your family safe. Find out if your home is at risk, sign up for flood warnings and be ready to take action. Visit www.gov.uk/flood or call Floodline on 0345 988 1188.

Learning from the exercise will be used to shape how organisations respond to a major flooding incident on the River Trent in the future.

 Notes to Editors

      We provide free flood warnings across England to warn of the risk of flooding from rivers, the sea and groundwater Anyone can sign up. Visit www.gov.uk/flood or call Floodline on 0345 988 1188. 

      We issue 3 levels of flood warnings: Flood Alert, Flood Warning and Severe Flood Warning. 

           Flood Alert – Prepare. Flooding is possible.

           Flood Warning – Act. Flooding is expected. Immediate action required.

           Severe Flood Warning – Survive. Severe flooding. Danger to life.  

Know what to do when you receive a flood warning and view our three point flood plan at https://floodsdestroy.campaign.gov.uk/

      If you live in an area at risk of flooding, prepare a bag of essential items now to take with you if you have to leave your home. Keep this in a safe place. You could include things like spare medication, glasses, clothing, important documents and contact numbers. 

      Create a checklist of things to do to protect your family such as turning off the electricity and gas to prevent a fire. You could also add important contact details such as the number of your insurance company. Download a template from www.gov.uk/flood

      Check if your community has a flood group, if not, set up your own, and complete a community flood plan. You can download a template from www.gov.uk/flood.   

      Monitor local water levels and weather conditions. You can check river and sea levels in England on www.gov.uk/flood. Visit the Met Office website for local weather forecasts at www.metoffice.gov.uk.

      Think about getting insurance to protect your home or business against flooding. Check if flood insurance is part of your buildings and contents insurance. If you are finding it difficult to get your property insured for flooding, the National Flood Forum may be able to help www.nationalfloodforum.org.uk  

      Think about making your property resilient to flooding. To reduce flood damage you can take steps such as laying tiles instead of carpets, moving electrical sockets higher up the wall and fitting non-return valves. Suppliers of flood products and services can be found on the Bluepages. http://bluepages.org.uk/.