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Council hires Polish-speaking housing officer to tackle rise in rough sleepers

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Council hires Polish-speaking housing officer to tackle rise in rough sleepers

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Published by 24publishing for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Local Government

Council hires Polish-speaking housing officer to tackle rise in rough sleepers Council hires Polish-speaking housing officer to tackle rise in rough sleepers

A London borough has hired a Polish-speaking social inclusion and enforcement officer after revealing that central and Eastern European nationals make up around 45-50% of its rough sleeping population.

Southwark Council – the largest local authority social landlord in London – is anticipating a rise in the number of people sleeping rough as a result of the harsh economic climate and welfare cuts.

It says across the capital, the number of central and Eastern European rough sleepers has leaped from 545 (18%) in 2008/9 to 1,526 (28%) in 2011/12 as a result of more Eastern European countries joining the EU.

In Southwark, it says central and Eastern European nationals make up around 45-50% of the rough sleeping population.

It says as some people enter the country seeking work, they can be unaware of the procedure they need to follow in order to be able to work in the UK.

Without the correct registration process taking place, they cannot claim benefits either. This gap between arrival and employment leaves many people vulnerable to quickly becoming homeless and has contributed to the increase, in rough sleepers, the council says.

To help combat this, Southwark is working with the Home Office and has employed a Polish-speaking social inclusion and enforcement officer in order to address the issue.

Councillor Ian Wingfield, deputy leader and cabinet member for housing at Southwark Council, said: “It is shocking that in this day and age, some people still find themselves in such difficult circumstances. As a council at the forefront of dealing with the complexity of housing provision, we have a clear commitment and responsibility to prevent homelessness and help when it does happen. Committing to building 1,000 new homes is one step in the right direction, as is the independent housing commission report that we’re currently looking at. We will continue to take an innovative approach in preparation for what might be a tough winter, with more people resorting to rough sleeping during difficult economic times.”

The council says it’s working in a number of ways to address homelessness including working with mediation services, introducing a council letting scheme with private landlords to increase supply and participating in the Greater London Authority’s No Second Night Out campaign.

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