Third of home­less refuse shel­ter

‘For some the thought of en­ter­ing a shel­ter with other peo­ple is too much for them’

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Front Page - By Jodie Nes­ling Jnes­ling@thek­m­group.co.uk @jo­di­enes­ling

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

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