Third of homeless refuse shelter
‘For some the thought of entering a shelter with other people is too much for them’
A third of rough sleepers offered a warm bed to escape the cold in Canterbury this month turned down the shelter, the city council has revealed.
Thirteen of the 38 people approached on the city’s streets declined to take up a bed when the authority launched its emergency measures as temperatures dipped below freezing.
But homelessness charities say the reasons for this are complicated, pointing to social prob- lems, anxiety, stress and other mental health issues.
Terry Gore, the general manager of Catching Lives, based in Station Road East, said: “For some the thought of entering a shelter with lots of other people is too much for them – even if it is freezing cold outside.
“We cannot force people to come here. The reasons for those who choose to remain rather than come here are complex.
“They have high anxiety or may even be suffering post-traumatic stress.”
The city council launched its severe weather emergency protocol (Swep) on December 8, when temperatures were forecast to fall below zero degrees for three nights running.
Extra beds funded by the authority were provided at the day centre of Catching Lives, with 25 rough sleepers taking up the offer of a warm overnight stay.
Porchlight, based in Watling Street, agrees that more needs to be done to solve the problem.
Spokesman Chris Thomas said: “Homelessness is complicated and tackling it is about more than just providing a roof.
“It’s a year that’s seen another disturbing increase in the numbers of people facing the misery of homelessness and life on the streets. We found 644 sleeping rough in Kent between April 1 and December 1 this year.
“That’s a rise of 39% on the same period the previous year.
“The picture in Kent reflects a national problem.
“Cuts in housing benefit and welfare reform are slowly but surely reducing people’s options and we’re bracing ourselves for what lies ahead.
“We’re aware of the need for governments to reduce deficits but the ill-thought-out decisions of the past 15 years are having devastating consequences.”
To let the authorities know about a rough sleeper in need of assistance call Catching Lives on 01227 464904 on weekdays, or the council’s control room on 01227 781879 at evenings and weekends, providing as much information as possible about the location of the individual.
To donate to Porchlight visit www.porchlight.org.
Terry Gore, from Catching Lives Day Centre, says some of those who refuse the centre’s help have high anxiety or may even be suffering post-traumatic stress