Charity asks for public's help to find rough sleepers
Published by Porchlight for Porchlight in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Local Government
Don't Just Walk Past - Tell Us
Kent-based homelessness charity Porchlight has today launched a campaign urging members of the public to tell the charity about the location of rough sleepers in Kent and Medway.
The "Don't Just Walk Past – Tell Us" campaign gives people the option of calling a 24-hour helpline number 0800 567 76 99 or completing a form on the charity’s website www.porchlight.org.uk/tellus. You will be asked some simple questions about the person you have seen so that the specialist rough sleeper team can easily locate and identify them.
Porchlight conducts regular early morning street outreach sessions across the county to locate and engage with rough sleepers but hopes that extra intelligence from the public will mean they can find even more vulnerable people.
Chris Coffey, strategic manager for the charity’s rough sleeper team, says that the campaign is keen to find people that are new to the streets: "A large number of homeless people are currently staying on friend’s sofas or in unsuitable temporary accommodation. All too quickly they can drop on to the streets when their welcome runs out. If someone has to sleep rough for too long they can become entrenched in that lifestyle and develop further issues such as drug or alcohol dependency. We want the public’s help to find people quickly and prevent their situation from becoming even worse."
When the charity receives information about a rough sleeper the team will try to find and engage with that person as quickly as possible.
Mr. Coffey said: "We will invite the person to a safe place such as a local day centre run by one of our partner agencies. This will give us an opportunity to really talk to the rough sleeper and get a clear idea of their support needs. From there we can decide whether they would be best placed into supported accommodation or somewhere more independent."
In the first 3 months of this year 244 people approached the charity’s rough sleeper team for help. This comes on the back of figures published in February by the Department for Communities and Local Government that showed a 23% rise in rough sleeping in the last year across England.
Mike Barrett, Chief Executive for Porchlight is not surprised by the dramatic rise: "The huge increase in people finding themselves in a desperate situation is very sad but not a shock. The financial pressures affecting both the individuals themselves and the organizations that are there to help are finally coming to fruition."
Porchlight received £250k from the Homeless Transition Fund at the end of 2011. The £20m independent Fund was set up to help support the national rough sleeping strategy vision to end rough sleeping: No Second Night Out nationwide.
Administered by umbrella organisation Homeless Link, the Fund received 190 applications from charities wanting to protect key homelessness services.
Mark McPherson, Director of Practice & Regions at Homeless Link, says: "We know that the longer people stay on the streets the deeper their problems can get and the harder they can be for them to overcome. That is why we are supporting organisations across the country, including Porchlight, to make sure no one has to spend a second night out on the streets through the Homelessness Transition Fund. There are already successful ways for the public to tell us about people sleeping rough set up in London and Liverpool, and now everyone in Kent can join the campaign and take a step to help end rough sleeping."
Homeless Link is urging everyone to Take a Step to end rough sleeping. www.homelesslink.org.uk/take-a-step