Council leader’s bid to reduce rough sleeping with firmer approach

Homeless rough sleeper
Homeless rough sleeper
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IN A bid to reduce rough sleeping, a council leader is calling for organisations to work together and for residents not to give directly to the homeless.

Fareham Borough Council leader Councillor Sean Woodward is bringing together charities, politicians and local groups for a conference on combatting homelessness in the borough.

Cllr Woodward said: ‘No one should be homeless in Fareham and so if they are there is it because they are not accepting the help.

‘With this conference we can combine forces with organisations such as Two Saints, Home and Acts of Kindness to help these people in the best way.’

The council leader believes there are 11 people sleeping rough in the borough.

He said: ‘We don’t have a massive problem like some city centres however I get e-mails and letters every day about drug abuse in the church yard and people sleeping rough in The Gillies.

‘Residents are fed up and want to know what I am doing to stop this so this is it.’

The meeting will be held at the Fareham Innovation Centre at Daedalus on July 11.

Cllr Woodward continued: ‘People think they are helping when they are giving money and food and blankets on the streets and while they are not wrong it means it is comfortable for these people to live on the streets.

‘I heard of one man coming to Fareham with a £20 a day drug habit and after sleeping rough and begging he now has a £120 a day habit.

‘The money people give can be used for goodness knows what so that is why all the local organisations need to work together to provide what is needed and help these people off the streets.’

The council leader intends to collate a list of places where food, blankets, money and other items in the local area can be taken instead of locals giving to people who are on the streets directly.

Fareham residents have mixed views about the ideas.

John Gorhan, 62 and of Swanwick Lane, said: ‘I blame Tory housing policies for the homelessness problems.

‘If someone is in need I’d give them a bottle of water on a hot day rather than £1 because I know they’re going to drink it and not buy drugs.

‘The only way we’re going to tackle the issue is to change government economic policy.’

Robert Villier, a 77-year-old of Downend Road, added: ‘I applaud the council leader for what he’s trying to do, get everyone together so they can at least brainstorm about the problem.’