COMMENT: Tackle the reasons why they are on the streets

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A year ago we reported how homelessness had reached crisis levels, with more and more people ending up living on the streets.

The News has thrown its weight behind a number of community initiatives to try to improve the situation.

And today we are pleased to give our support to Joanne Vines, founder of the Rucksack Project, in her efforts to get a double-decker bus converted into a homeless shelter with 12 beds, plus showers and cooking facilities.

Launching our Get On Board campaign, we hope you will want to help too.

Whether it’s skills, time, materials or money, whatever you can offer Joanne will help to complete the shelter on wheels.

It’s a great initiative, but we do agree with Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond when she says that the converted bus needs to form part of the city’s main homeless support network.

What we need is a cohesive approach, ensuring that community action groups and projects such as the one run by Joanne don’t exist individually.

Instead they should be joined together and work together as a single team with a common aim and purpose.

The News understands this is already in the pipeline and that has to be welcomed.

Only a couple of months ago a major seminar took place in the city, uniting many of the area’s groups which provide free food for the homeless.

Organised by Mrs Drummond, the event resulted in the creation of a centralised point of contact.

But as we react to the plight of the homeless, it is not enough to try to ease the effects of living on the streets.

We also need to focus on and tackle the reasons why people end up living rough in the first place.