Here is what is being done to tackle rough sleeping in Norwich
PUBLISHED: 06:30 10 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:36 13 March 2018
“I hope you don’t think I’m rude. I’m sleeping around the back of Jarrold. I’ve slept by the flyover, all over. I’m trying to get enough money for a hostel.”
The man with a pale face and dark stubble is going up to everyone on White Lion Street in the city centre on a Thursday lunchtime.
He says he has been homeless since splitting up with his girlfriend. He then slept on friends’ sofas.
The 39-year old is waiting for a place to become free at St Martins hostel.
Until then he sleeps on the streets and tries to raise enough money each day to pay for a bed for the night. He says he needs £20 for that.
There are food and services for rough sleepers during the day; a place to shower at the Salvation Army and eat.
But spending a day there in the warmth will mean a cold night. He needs the day to raise his £20.
He is one of the rising number of people sleeping rough in the city.
There are dozens there each night in doorways, tents or cars. Each one has a different reason for being there.
But the figures show a darkening picture.
On any one night there are around 30 rough sleepers in the city – up from 13 in 2015, according to the annual rough sleeper count.
Last year, Norwich City Council’s rough sleeper outreach service dealt with 400 rough sleepers, a 60pc rise in two years.
And experts believe the number will continue to increase.
They have blamed changes to benefits and cuts to services such as mental health which would previously have supported people in crisis.
Norwich City Council is focusing on three priorities to tackle the issue – reducing rough sleeper numbers, helping rough sleepers who don’t want to engage, and using housing services to move people away from homelessness for good.
Those three priorities form the plank of the council’s new rough sleeping strategy.
And the way rough sleeping is tackled in the city will also change from April.
Councils will pay a group led by charity St Martins Housing Trust to help prevent it.
The service will get £1.5m over three years and is being funded by the city council, county council, and NHS.
A report going before city councillors next week says the current rough sleeping service needs to change to deal with the rising number of people on the streets and their complicated needs.
The new group is formed by St Martins, the YMCA, the Salvation Army, The Feed, Shelter, Future Projects and the Mancroft Advice Project.
They will run an “outreach service” for rough sleepers, bring health services to those sleeping on the street, and tailor support to each rough sleeper.
The approach is called Making Every Adult Matter.
Councillor Kevin Maguire, portfolio holder for safe city environment, said: “Severe government cuts made to public services across the board have had a big impact on the numbers of people rough sleeping in Norwich and to the resources available to help people who find themselves in this terrible situation.”
The council also wants a post-detox facility in Norwich to give accommodation for people who have gone through treatment for addictions where people are not using alcohol or drugs.
The council report said: “This type of provision has the potential to break the cycle of homelessness providing people with a more stable future.”