Official figures on the levels of rough sleeping across England were released yesterday (January 25, 2018). According to the latest figures, collected in the Autumn of 2017, 4,751 people are estimated to be sleeping rough on any one night.
The figure for Norwich was 30, slightly less than last year, but it remains unacceptably high. Nationally, there was an increase of 15% from 2016 to 2017, while since 2010 rough sleeping estimates show an increase of 169%.
At St Martins, we are working hard to provide a place for rough sleepers in Norwich – and thanks to the fundraising efforts of local people, we have built facilities to accommodate an additional seven rough sleepers at our hostel Bishopbridge House.
Why are there so many rough sleepers?
- The hostel is frequently full, and we discover people who are new to the street all the time. The challenge is not only in finding a place for rough sleepers to go, but the lack of move-on accommodation available.
- We are in a housing crisis and rough sleeping is the most obvious indicator of this. There is a lack of social housing and a mismatch between supply and demand of affordable rented homes.
- We are also seeing fairly chaotic prison discharge arrangements with many prisoners coming out without any accommodation arranged so a number of them resort to rough sleeping.
We know from experience that there is more to homelessness than housing – but to give a roof over person’s head is the starting point to enable them to rebuild their life.