New strategy to help the increasing number of homeless in Norwich

A homeless man. Credit: Ian West/PA Wire

A homeless man. Credit: Ian West/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A new strategy to help homeless people in Norwich has been unveiled as a local charity today revealed it was forced to turn away hundreds of people seeking help.

The new five-year plan was adopted by Norwich City Council last night and will see the author-ity work more closely with partner organisations to help people find affordable housing and prevent them from becoming homeless.

The move comes as new figures from YMCA Norfolk show the charity has only been able to help just over half of the 603 young people who have required support so far this year.

Jason Beattie, YMCA Norfolk's business development director, said: 'We are actively trying to grow our capacity because there is a demand for it. The risk is that if you don't have the capacity there, people might have to stay in an unsuitable place.

'It is a problem all year round, but particularly this time of year.'

Mr Beattie stressed that the 285 people the charity was unable to provide accommodation for would have been directed to other local agencies.

Last night city councillors approved the new initiative to reduce homelessness in the greater Norwich area.

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It was noted that changes to the welfare system were likely to result in an increase in families and young people becoming homeless.

Bert Bremner, cabinet member for environment and sustainable development, said: 'We are having to do more and more for people who are struggling because of the cuts to their finances.

'Society is under stress and we have got to expect that with austerity and cuts. We have a tremendous support team here who do an amazing amount of work, but the number of people who need support is increasing.'

Over the past five years the authority has managed to prevent 3,071 people from becoming homeless.

St Martins Housing Trust, which provides support and accommodation to vulnerable people in the city, deals with around 500 referrals each year.

Derek Player, general manager, said that from April to September it had found 150 people sleeping rough in the city.

He added: 'We have managed to find beds for the majority of those, but we are feeling anxious that the numbers are increasing steadily.

'The emotions we see on the streets are fear, exhaustion and confusion. People are cold and hungry and they might not have anyone to turn to.'

Are you helping homeless people in Norwich? Call Luke Powell on 01603 772684.