NEWS COMMENT: It takes more than a sticking plaster to fix living rough

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Booming numbers of homeless people is not a problem that is in any way exclusive to Portsmouth, or even this part of the county.

The increase in those who live on the streets has become an inescapable part of urban life in recent years.

But that does not mean it has to be something that we meekly accept as the reality of life in 2018.

The reasons behind why people are sleeping rough are many and complex, but as a mature and civil society we cannot turn our backs on those who are in genuine need.

These are often people with underlying problems that simply putting a roof over their heads again will not solve.

This is why we welcome Portsmouth City Council’s proposals to help get these individuals off of the street, and give them the support they so desperately need to get their lives back on track.

And there is a big key there in the word ‘individual’. Treating the homeless as one homogeneous mass is never going to work in the long-term.

While the council must play a major part in this programme, it is not entirely on them. That is why it has been called a partnership strategy. The official number of homeless sleepers in Portsmouth is 42 – up from 37 a year before. However, by their definition, getting an exact answer of how many are out there night after night can be hard.

As Cllr Darren Sanders, in charge of housing for the council, says: ‘The person would be at the heart of what we do, not the process.’

This shouldn’t be a radical way of thinking, but for a society bound up in bureaucracy and pointless red tape, it would seem it is. The tail should no longer wag the dog – we need to put the people at the heart of how and why something is being done.

And to never forget, that there by the grace of God, or one false turn, it could be any of us.