Norfolk homeless figures "much higher" than official estimates
- Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Norfolk’s homeless figures are “likely to be much higher” than official numbers, a charity has warned.
At least 70 people are still living on the streets in Norfolk, recent snapshot figures from the Office for National Statistics show.
Norfolk accounts for around 2.6pc of the 2,688 people who were estimated to be sleeping rough on a single night in autumn 2020 in England.
The UK figure is down a third on 2019, which saw 4,266 people counted.
The fall follows the Everyone In scheme, which has housed about 37,000 people since last March.
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Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney, a charity supporting formerly homeless people, has raised concerns for those remaining on the streets.
Covid has forced many support services such as night shelters and soup kitchens to close, leaving those in need without support.
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Cecile Roberts, CEO of Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney, said: “One person sleeping on our streets is one too many, so we are saddened to see that 2,688 people were found to be rough sleeping across England.
“Experience working with homeless people in the East of England tells us that this figure is actually likely to be much higher.”
Ms Roberts said the survey only takes into account people who were seen sleeping rough on a single evening and homeless people will often sleep out of sight due to fears for their safety.
One person helped by Emmaus is Lee, who spent seven years sleeping rough after losing his home.
“For seven years, that was my life,” he said.
“It was very scary, especially at first. Life on the streets was hard; everything was so new, and I didn’t know how to act around people.
“Eventually I started to make friends with the other lads that were out on the street. We formed a little community.”
Despite the community, Lee said the streets were dangerous, especially at the weekends.
He said: “When the pubs kicked out at two or three in the morning, I would often see guys who’d had one too many spot a homeless person and start on him for no reason – I’ve seen people kicked, punched and even urinated on.”
Ms Roberts said while the Everyone In policy got many people off the streets there now needs to be a permanent solution.
If you spot someone sleeping on the streets please contact Street Link by visiting www.streetlink.org.uk or call 0300 500 0914 to send an alert.