Home­less num­bers dou­ble in two years

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Helping Others - By Matt Le­clere

The num­ber of home­less peo­ple in Kent in­creased again over the past year, new fig­ures have re­vealed.

It comes as a char­ity work­ing to tackle the is­sue in the county blasted the govern­ment’s “lack of com­pas­sion” to­wards the grow­ing prob­lem.

In the last 12 months, staff at Porch­light worked with 707 rough sleep­ers across the county.

The dra­matic rise is al­most dou­ble the num­ber of peo­ple the street teams worked with two years ago, when the fig­ure was 385.

The lat­est fig­ures are re­ported be­tween April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017 and were re­leased this week.

But the char­ity, based in Can­ter­bury with projects across Kent, says this could be just the tip of the ice­berg with many rough sleep­ers hid­den from view.

Porch­light’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Mike Bar­rett, said the wor­ry­ing speed of the growth of the prob­lem was ev­i­dence of the govern­ment do­ing lit­tle to com­bat it.

He said: “Suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments have pledged to tackle the prob­lem with well mean­ing words and plat­i­tudes, only to in­tro­duce ever more cal­lous poli­cies that will in­crease the poverty and mis­ery of vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple.

“The re­luc­tance to ac­knowl­edge the true size of the home­less­ness prob­lem is ev­i­denced by on­go­ing fund­ing cuts which are leav­ing lo­cal coun­cils strug­gling to find ways to deal with the is­sue.”

Char­i­ties have warned the prob­lem is ex­pected to grow even more in the next few years.

The sec­tor has warned new cuts could leave 11,000 more young peo­ple at risk of be­ing home­less in the next four years.

Changes are be­ing made in 2021 to slash the hous­ing ben­e­fit el­e­ment of the Uni­ver­sal Credit scheme.

Mr Bar­rett added: “Char­i­ties need to stand up and sug­gest so­lu­tions.

“Al­though we won’t be able to solve the prob­lem on our own, we will con­tinue to come up in­no­va­tive ser­vices that help pro­vide real so­lu­tions and stop vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple be­com­ing home­less in the first place.”

The warn­ings come a week af­ter home­less man, Sean Brady, died in Ash­ford town cen­tre on April 7.

Porch­light’s 24 hour helpline is 0800 567 76 99 or visit www.porch­light.org.uk

Home­less­ness in the county is on the in­crease

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.