As seen in the March issue of Aspire Magazine...
In 21st century Britain, everybody should have a place to live, but statistics show that the number of homeless people is on the rise in many parts of the UK. On a recent trip to Harrogate, I counted five rough sleepers on just one short street in the town centre. No matter how affluent an area may seem, this heart-breaking epidemic affects all areas, in every country around the world.
Though there are no exact figures on the number of homeless people in the UK, the latest survey (published in January 2018) estimated that 4,751 people sleep rough on the streets of Britain on a typical night - a massive 169% increase since 2010. 2017 studies also reported the North West as having the biggest increase in homeless population that year, with figures rising by 39%. This is followed by the East Midlands, up by 23% and Yorkshire and the Humber, increasing by 20%.
A press release, published in December 2018 by leading charity Shelter, reported a 59% increase in the number of homeless children in the last five years. The charity warns the impact of the housing crisis will be felt across a generation, with 1 in every 103 children in Britain now classed as homeless. An estimated 131,000 children woke up Christmas morning without a permanent home.
Being homeless is devastating, dangerous and isolating. Studies have shown homeless people are almost 17 times more likely to have been victims of violence and are 9 times more likely to commit suicide. 1 in 3 rough sleepers have experienced deliberate violence whilst on the streets.
There are a number of different reasons why someone may be homeless, varying from unemployment and lack of affordable housing, recent release from prison, care or the armed forces to mental and/or physical health problems. For many women and children, the need to escape a violent home leaves them with no choice but to sleep rough. UK charity Crisis describes four types of homelessness:Rough Sleeping; Temporary Accommodation; Hidden Homelessness (unreported); and Statutory Homelessness (deemed ‘priority need’ and owed a duty of care by their local authority).
It’s only natural to want to help if you see a rough sleeper, but it can be difficult to know how to do so. Here in Craven, along with their Severe Weather Provision and Young Persons Housing Solutions @ The Hub (a support program for 16-25 years olds), Craven District Council have partnered with Horton Housing. Working together, they provide a range of services and accommodation for those in need.
To find out more about CDC’s ‘No Second Night Out’ program, visit: www.cravendc.gov.uk To report a rough sleeper in the Craven area, call 01756 706475 (office hours) or 01653 699392 (out of hours). The team will then make contact with that person and provide them with the necessary help and support.
Like Craven, most councils have their own systems in place to manage reports and care for rough sleepers. However, if you’re unsure of the procedure in another area, national service Streetlink is there to help. Use the website to send an alert and the team will contact the correct authority or outreach service – www.streetlink.org.uk