WATCH: Portsmouth’s homeless speak out after report claims UK’s rough sleepers will quadruple by 2041

Ian Darke

WATCH: Football commentator Ian Darke describes 'addiction' of supporting Pompey

0
Have your say

HOMELESS people in Portsmouth have said not enough is being done to help them, after a new report claimed the number of people living on the streets in the UK is set to more than quadruple over the next 25 years.

Figures from charity Crisis also show the number of homeless people nationally - including rough sleepers and those in temporary accommodation - will rise to 575,000 by 2041, up from 236,000 in 2016.

Roy, 46 and Charles, 45, have both been sleeping rough on Portsmouth's Commercial Road.

Roy, 46 and Charles, 45, have both been sleeping rough on Portsmouth's Commercial Road.

The report comes after the number of rough sleepers in Portsmouth ballooned from eight to about 60 in the last three years up to May.

46-year-old Roy has been living rough for nearly nine years after his landlord went bankrupt and he was forced to move out of his flat.

While living on the streets he has faced three spells in prison for begging, and two years and eight months behind bars for dealing Class A drugs.

Speaking to The News reporter Kieran Davey on Commercial Road, Roy said: ‘Nothing is really being done to help us. The council do not take any notice of what is going on.

Since three years ago there have probably been five times more people on the street here.

Roy, 46

‘When I first became homeless I was registered on their website as being one of the only people on the streets in the city. ‘Since three years ago there have probably been five times more people on the street here.

‘A lot of them do have issues with drink and drugs. The council just don’t care about their responsibilities.

‘There are services available, say if you’ve been involved with alcohol, but I’ve haven’t drunk in years.’

The Rucksack Project group, with support from Portsmouth City Council, is converting a double-decker bus into a homeless shelter.

About 60 people have been sleeping rough in Portsmouth, according to figures released for May.

About 60 people have been sleeping rough in Portsmouth, according to figures released for May.

When opened the bus will provide beds, showers, a kitchen and toilets to help the city’s rough sleepers.

But Roy said the project would not be a ‘long term solution’, and said councils need more funding to make a difference.

He said: ‘They’re bringing in the homeless bus but that’s not going to solve the problem.

‘I think the situation will get a lot worse. The government won’t give the financial help to councils so it won’t get any better.’

Another rough sleeper, Tam, said she moved to the city from Bristol after being denied help to find accommodation.

She said: ‘I had issues with drugs but got clean. I asked the council for help but they told me I was not “vulnerable” enough.

‘They said I could go through hostels but I don’t want to go there.’

Charles, 45, is also among thousands of rough sleepers who regularly move between cities in search of a job and somewhere to live.

Back in Guildford he had a job building swimming pools, but became homeless after the company went under and he split up with his partner.

He said: ‘I’ve been on and off the streets for 20 years. I’ve been around the country, been up to Scotland as well.

‘People are very nice when they pass by down here.

‘The situation is going to get worse. I’ve been to prison and even that is better than this.

‘We used to be the richest country in the world but now there’s no-one to help us.’

The number of people in the UK living on the streets is predicted to shoot up from 9,100 in 2016 to 40,100 by 2041, according to the analysis carried out by Heriot-Watt University.

The report adds that a 60 per cent increase in new housing could reduce levels of homelessness by 19 per cent by 2036.

To celebrate its 50th anniversary Crisis is calling on the public to support its Everybody In campaign to end the worst forms of homelessness.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: ‘Regardless of what happens in people’s lives, whatever difficulties they face or choices they make, no one should ever have to face homelessness.

‘With the right support at the right time, it doesn’t need to be inevitable.

‘There are solutions, and we’re determined to find them and make them a reality.’

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said he was ‘hugely concerned’ by the latest research and said it was clear what the government is doing to help ‘is just not enough.’

The Labour politician said: ‘The number of people sleeping rough on our streets has already doubled in recent years.

The spiralling rise in street homelessness results directly from decisions made by the Conservatives on pay, housing, mental health and social security.

‘We need a new national plan to end rough sleeping, by making available new homes, taking action to tackle the root causes of homelessness and safeguarding homeless hostels and other supported housing.

‘Homelessness should not be inevitable in a country as decent and well off as ours.’

A Portsmouth City Council spokesman said a homeless working group had been set to help meet the ‘changing needs of homeless people’.

The panel will look at individual cases and examine the needs of each person to provide them with the best support.

The council is also hoping to run another winter shelter scheme, similar to last year, to help bring rough sleepers in off the streets and provide them with a safe and warm sleeping environment.

Councillor Jennie Brent, the city council’s cabinet member for property and housing, said: ‘The issue of homelessness is something I am intensely passionate about.

‘Any of us could end up in this kind of situation one day.

‘Rough sleepers are just everyday people like you or I who may have fallen on hard times, suffered mental, physical or sexual abuse, or turned to an addiction as a coping mechanism. It’s a very complex issue.

‘Through our homelessness working group and panel, we’re pro-actively looking into new ways of supporting and empowering rough sleepers, investigating their individual and complex needs, and helping them back onto their feet and into a brighter future.’