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Outgoing charity boss blames 'cuts to social services' for 'depressing' rise in city homelessness

PUBLISHED: 22:40 17 July 2019 | UPDATED: 22:40 17 July 2019

Chief Executive of the Feed, Matt Townsend. Photo: The Feed

Chief Executive of the Feed, Matt Townsend. Photo: The Feed

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The chief executive of a Norwich charity has blamed cuts to social services for the rise in the city's homelessness problem as he prepares to leave the organisation.

Matt Townsend has been heading up The Feed for two years, and in that time changed the organisation into a charity, opened a cafe and training centre on Prince of Wales Road, and helped set up the Pathways homelessness consortium.

But as he announced he was leaving for pastures new, he said new ways of tackling homelessness were needed and it had been "depressing" to watch rough sleeping in the city rise.

The Feed trains people who have been homeless, have criminal pasts, mental health problems or drug and alcohol addiction histories

And Mr Townsend is leaving for pastures new and said: "The key thing is providing people who want to get back on their feet with opportunities and confidence that they can succeed.

"It has been so depressing watching rough sleeping get worse in Norwich over the last few years.

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"I worry that we, like so many other cities, are seeing drug use escalate among people who are vulnerable along with major challenges like cuckooing where people become enslaved in their own homes by criminal gangs.

"We need new approaches to homelessness, what worked ten years ago won't work anymore as the issues are so much more complicated and we are now seeing the impacts of cuts to social services over the last decade as people who needed support earlier are now at crisis point. I know Norwich is up to the challenge and will be watching to see what happens next."

The Feed was Norwich's civic charity last year and led the Lord Mayor's Parade.

Under Mr Townsend's tenure the organisation was also a founding member of the Pathways Norwich homelessness consortium, which brings together all the main homelessness charities in Norwich to deliver rough sleeping outreach services.

He added: "I'm very proud of what my team have delivered at The Feed.

"They have supported and trained so many people and set up this amazing centre on Prince of Wales Road.

"Many of our trainees get work in a variety of food and hospitality businesses. It's such a worthwhile organisation."

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