Pompey CEO Sleepout: Rough sleeping is ‘tip of the iceberg’ of city’s homelessness problem

Carole Damper, chief executive officer at The Roberts Centre
Carole Damper, chief executive officer at The Roberts Centre
Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane

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ROUGH sleeping is the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of homelessness in Portsmouth, a charity chief has said.

According to the CEO of The Roberts Centre, Carole Damper, as many as ‘200 people’ present themselves to the local authority as homeless each year.

The boss of the initiative, which supports city families rocked by hardship, cited the figures in a call for a better public understanding of the issues which leave people without a place to call home.

And as she gears up to join The Pompey CEO Sleepout on Monday, April 16, she hopes an important conversation could soon be kick-started.

She said: ‘Clearly there is a visible manifestation of homelessness in Portsmouth in terms of people sleeping in the streets, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

‘Around 200 people will present to the authority as homeless in any given year.

‘It will be great to be with like-minded people [for the sleepout] and I hope it is the start of an ongoing dialogue.’

The fixture, which will see more than 60 business leaders bed down for a night at Fratton Park, comes after the release of stark government figures in January.

Data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government found the numbers of rough sleepers in Portsmouth had increased by 14 per cent since 2016, to 42.

But even though the spike is ‘terrible’, Ms Damper says, the problem transcends high streets and town centres – with many becoming homeless by definition after losing care or escaping dangerous households, for example.

‘When the winter warms up, people do not think about the homeless having such a problem,’ she said.

‘But there will always be those who can’t cope – safety nets that once caught people on the verge of homelessness have become much smaller.

‘As a city I know we care, but I’m keen to take part in the CEO Sleepout to highlight the wider issue many people face.’

With thousands of pounds set to be raised, leaders’ sponsorship from the Pompey CEO Sleepout will be pooled three ways among The Society of St James, Pompey in the Community and the CEO Sleepout.

Q & A: The Pompey CEO Sleepout at Fratton Park

When will the Pompey CEO Sleepout take place?

The sleepout itself will take place on Monday, April 16, at Fratton Park.

Can I join the sleepout?

You can join the sleepout if you are the head of a business in, around or near Portsmouth.

How can I donate to the Pompey CEO Sleepout?

To donate, text ‘PITC17 £’, followed by your desired donation amount in pounds, to 70070. Alternatively, you can donate online through the Pompey CEO Sleepout’s Just Giving page, at justgiving.com/fundraising/pitcceo

What will my money go towards?

After the Pompey CEO Sleepout takes place, all donations made will be split three ways between the Society of St James, Pompey in the Community and the national CEO Sleepout initiative.