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Number of rough sleepers in Newham up by almost 50 per cent in one year

PUBLISHED: 18:11 25 January 2017

Memorial Community Church in Plaistow is used as a place to bed down for the night by rough sleepers. Picture Ken Mears

Memorial Community Church in Plaistow is used as a place to bed down for the night by rough sleepers. Picture Ken Mears

Archant

Rough sleeping in the borough has increased by 46 per cent in just 12 months, according to government figures out today.

Housing charity Crisis warned rough sleeping was rising at an “appalling rate” as statistics from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) showed rough sleeping had reached a three-year high in Newham, worsening particularly over the last year.

Some 41 people bedded down outside on a single night in autumn 2016, compared to 28 a year earlier.

Newham is facing an “increasing challenge” when it comes to the number of people rough sleeping, a council spokeswoman said.

“We are doing all we can to provide people with a solution,” she said. “We take a balanced approach, tackling the issue in an appropriate, humane and fair way, taking enforcement action when necessary.”

Council initiatives offered include an outreach service via homelessness charity Thames Reach “to locate and assess rough sleepers to see what assistance can be offered, in particular access to drug, alcohol and mental health services”.

Pan-London hostel accommodation, through the Mayor of London’s No Second Night Out initiative, and increased cold weather patrols have also been adopted by the local authority.

Keith Fernett, chief executive of homeless charity Caritas Anchor House, said he hoped better cross-working between organisations could be used to tackle the “real shortage of housing in London” and “diminution of services being offered”.

He said: “Let’s see if the council can work with local charities to minimise the impact in local communities.”

Local authorities’ counts and estimates from today’s DCLG figures show that 4,134 slept rough in England on a snapshot night in autumn 2016, up 16pc from 3,569 the year before.

The highest incidences of rough sleeping were recorded in Westminster.

Newham Council was awarded nearly £400,000 of government funding in December to support people sleeping rough to get off the streets and rebuild their lives, including support to find jobs.

It is hoped the money will aid vulnerable people at risk of becoming homeless, including through issues with their tenancy, the breakdown of a relationship, substance misuse or mental illness.

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