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Fall in rough sleepers evidence of downward trend, Newham Council says

PUBLISHED: 17:00 27 February 2020

A rough sleeper on the floor of the Stratford Centre. Picture: Hannah Somerville

A rough sleeper on the floor of the Stratford Centre. Picture: Hannah Somerville

Archant

The number of people sleeping rough across Newham has fallen, according to government figures.

A national head count carried out by the ministry of housing, commuities and local government (MHCLG) last November found 64 people bedding down on the streets, down from 79 in 2018, a 19 per cent fall.

Newham Council has welcomed the figure, revealed on Thursday, February 27, believing that even though the count is a simple snap shot, it signals a downward trend.

Cllr John Gray, cabinet member for housing, said: "We can take some encouragement from the figures, but they only show that we are beginning to have some impact, we have not solved the problem.

"The council has pledged to deal with rough sleeping as a key priority and through its rough sleeping task force we are working across all council services and with partners to find caring and compassionate solutions."

Lorraine Tabone from homelessness support group Lola's Homeless said: "I'm very happy to hear the numbers have gone down for that night. But there are still guys becoming homeless on the streets daily."

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She called for homeless shelters to remain open all year round, warning that numbers could rise again.

The Town Hall's own head count shows the number of people sleeping on the streets fell from 108 last September to 58 in January, a 45pc drop.

Since mid-August, 49 tents and encampments have been removed from Stratford with people getting help to find alternative accommodation.

Since the spring, outreach, assessment and support has been boosted by Newham to help street homeless. Since April, there have been 324 accepted accommodation offers and moves for confirmed rough sleepers, according to the council.

Cllr Zulfiqar Ali, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said: "We have pledged to deal with the rough sleeping community with the care and compassion they deserve, as we work to ensure the government makes good on its election pledge to end rough sleeping by the end of this parliament.

"I am proud of the work our teams and partners have done but we started from a very low level of support provision so we have a long way to go."

The government figures show 17 rough sleepers in neighbouring Tower Hamlets, 14 in Barking and Dagenham and 16 in Redbridge.

To support Lola's Homeless go to facebook.com/groups/LolasHomeless


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