Homelessness crisis as statistics show the number of rough sleepers has risen in Preston

A person was sleeping rough in a substation cupboard under Ringway in Preston just before Christmas - it was boarded up the following week.
A person was sleeping rough in a substation cupboard under Ringway in Preston just before Christmas - it was boarded up the following week.

Alarming figures show the number of people sleeping rough in the city rose from 17 to 19 in a year - which homelessness chiefs say is the tip of the iceberg.

The statistics come amid rising concern around homelessness, fuelled by insecure tenancies, rising rents, benefit cuts, entitlement restrictions and shortages of affordable housing in England.

Jeff Marsh

Jeff Marsh

Jeff Marsh, chief executive of the city’s Foxton Centre, said the official figure, collated over just one night, was “limited in usefulness”.

Its outreach staff have seen and contacted 158 men and 27 women in the past year on the streets, and the last time Foxton ran its Winterwatch scheme - a protocol in severe cold weather - 12 people slept at Foxton, four at Millbank Court and nine in statutory provision.

Over winter 46 people were assessed for Winterwatch, and 35 of them took up the offer.

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Jeff said: “Numbers of homeless people continue to rise in what is nothing short of a national scandal.

“Here at the Foxton Centre we see no solutions to this crisis being put forward by government. Instead it is left to charities to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

The city launched an initiative to clamp down on beggars which saw six out of 95 beggars identified as genuinely homeless.

Last year Preston was given £130k from central government to tackle homelessness, and the council became a member of the Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) coalition meaning it can work with services and charities.

But many are doubtful government initiatives will address the scale of the problem.

In 12 months, 92 people were referred to Foxton’s “No Second Night Out” scheme, which offers emergency accommodation overnight, and helps people travel back to their native areas for support.