UNCOVERED: The plight of some of Preston's rough sleepers
Heartbreaking pictures show the squalid and dangerous conditions a vulnerable homeless person is forced to sleep in as temperatures plunge to below freezing.
The shocking pictures of a tiny concrete electricity cupboard - directly underneath Preston’s busiest road, the A59 Ringway - show how somebody has been squatting with just a single duvet to keep warm.
Their only other possessions appear to be a book and a lampshade.
There is no food, just two bottles of water and an empty giftset.
Wires powering the nearby subway leading to the market hang from the stained, damp walls, with a steep drop at one side of the space.
The Post has informed the city’s Foxton Centre and its outreach team are now hoping to find the person in order to help them.
Jeff Marsh, of the city’s Foxton Centre says the numbers of rough sleepers are rising year on year nationally and also in Preston.
Last year’s figures suggest rough sleeping rose by almost a third across the country.
He revealed the official estimate which will go back to the Department for Communities and Local Government for Preston will say 15 people this year are rough sleeping in the city.
He added: “This is based on a single early morning outreach session and just includes those seen to be bedded down.
“That morning a further four people were seen who we know to be homeless but not bedded down and therefore not counted.
“Our actual estimate of people who are regularly sleeping out based on recent experience would be in the 30s.
“It is sad in that a rich country like ours can’t deal with this issue.”
The Foxton Centre and Millbank Court are both currently open for rough sleepers overnight as the weather is so cold.
At the Foxton Centre, people are sleeping on air beds and sleeping mats in the hall as the organisation has no other facilities.
Jeff adds: “At least they will be warm and dry.
“We provide a supper and breakfast for people who sleep over but this is just sticking plaster.”
Foxtons’ Housing First project which takes people direct from the streets currently houses 16 former rough sleepers and is described as “an exciting development” for the city.
Last week the Post reported Preston has been handed a double boost – including a significant cash windfall – to help tackle the city’s ongoing homelessness problem.
The town hall will receive £130k from central government over the next two years meaning a new team of officers can be employed.
In addition to the financial help, the council has been unveiled as a member of the Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) coalition which means officers will be able to co-ordinate their approach with local authorities, services and charities to tackle the root causes of homelessness.
Last year, Preston launched an initiative to clamp down on beggars which saw authorities identify 95 people on the streets touting for cash.
In just one month, August, teams counted 40 actively begging.
While 25 were found to have accommodation and were receiving benefits, six were actually homeless and considered vulnerable.
The Foxton team are out in the city during the day, early evening and one early morning 4am to 7am each week.
The centre has a free breakfast from 9.30am, to 11.30am Tuesday to Friday where rough sleepers can get hot food, a shower and support into accommodation.
The centre is based on Knowsley Street.
They are in need of warm clothing and sleeping bags.
They are also selling giftcards to raise cash this Christmas.
For more information on donating, call 01772 555925 or log on to www.thefoxtoncentre.co.uk