The number of people verified as sleeping rough in Thanet has fallen by 50 per cent from 46 in 2017, to 23 in 2018.
The latest figures follow the annual rough sleeping count which took place between 4am and 7:30am yesterday (November 22).
The verified rough sleeper count only includes people bedding down on the street (in parks, churchyards etc) on one given night.
People using the Thanet Winter Shelter are not included in the rough sleeping count – that night there were 14 guests at the shelter,
It is in contrast to data released by national charity Shelter yesterday which published a table quoting the 2017 figure for Thanet.
Thanet council says the reduction in those sleeping on the streets is due to the introduction of the RISE team – Rough sleeper Intervention, Support and Empowerment – which has three outreach workers and a dedicated worker for mental health and another for drug and alcohol addiction.
The count was undertaken by volunteers from Thanet District Council’s housing team alongside the Department for Work and Pensions, Kent Police, and Porchlight. Working in teams they attempted to engage with those bedding down in the streets.
While the numbers may be lower, council housing boss Bob Porter has acknowledged that homelessness on the isle seems to be more visible this year with a number of people living in tents in churchyards, parks and beaches.
Earlier this week (Monday 19 November) the award-winning Thanet Winter Shelter, now in its third year, opened its doors to continue its work of helping people to find accommodation so that they don’t return to the streets.
The shelter is run by the Salvation Army with support from the council and local churches. This year, thanks to additional council funding, the shelter is running for an extra month – until the end of March 2019.
The shelter, which provides at least 20 beds every night, involves church halls opening their doors to those sleeping on the street to offer a bed, clothes and food.
A key aim of the Shelter is to better equip guests to help them secure and retain longer-term accommodation and to provide practical pathways for training and employment.
The venue of the shelter moves each night and some locations have additional, emergency beds.
This year the Winter Shelter is also working closely with the RISE project whose workers will be supporting those who come to the shelter.
RISE will put personalised support plans in place so people can be helped to find long-term accommodation, while also addressing any barriers which have prevented them finding and keeping a home in the past.
There are approximately 1,500 volunteer spaces available across all nights during the shelter’s opening. Specialist volunteers, such as hairdressers and a chiropodist, have also signed up to offer their services. Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up here: http://thanetwintershelter.org/volunteer
There are many more homeless on the streets and sofa surfing that the patrol count didn’t catch because they are unseen to them.
The homeless that gets help with the night time accomodation here are the ones who have been invited to register at the Gateway of which places are limited.
What is needed is radical changes to the way the government treat vulnerable people in society and to stop favouring foreign nationals who come here over British citizens, but unless ministers, MP’s and authorities push for changes they will not happen.
Can there be some clarification on how the numbers have halved? I see more homeless in Ramsgate highstreet and now sitting outside various shops like Tesco Hereson Road, Waitrose and chip shops.
The numbers are based on the annual count done with Porchlight. As it takes place over one night it is never going to be an exact science. I agree the numbers of homeless people is more visible this year but this is the count that gets officially recorded
Hmmm . . . how much ground was actually covered and by how many people during this three and a half hour window ?
We have miles of beaches and acres of parks and gardens, as well as church yards and cemeteries and untold nooks and crannies where rough sleepers hide themselves away. Clearly this can only have been a very superficial survey.
These numbers don’t even begin to address the issues of homelessness. 20 beds were available and 23 people were found sleeping outside in November. Good luck to RISE!