Homeless figures disputed by Leicester charity

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Jacob Jarvis

Official figures stating 13 people slept on the streets in Leicester last week may be too low, according to a homeless charity.

Although this figure might be correct in the city centre, there might be more people without shelter in other areas of Leicester, according to Emmaus.

Matthew Anthony Taylor, business manager of Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland, said: “Most people sleeping rough would tend to avoid the city centre as they are afraid of being attacked.

“You’re likely to find a lot of homeless people sleeping in allotments and gardens.

“The weather situation has probably lowered the number too, as obviously people want to get off the streets. In July the number would probably be double.”

Leicester City Council provides 131 bed spaces for single people or childless couples and 60 family units in council-run accommodation for people who find themselves homeless.

However, Mr Taylor does not feel that this provides a lasting solution to the problem.

He said: “Temporary accommodation doesn’t solve the problem. It doesn’t establish people’s needs properly.

“If you’re homeless and you’re an alcoholic or a drug addict you need a purpose. You need a reason to wake up in the morning and not to pursue your habit.

“At Emmaus we provide 16 people with beds as well as giving them a job and the motivation to work.”

Action Homeless, another Leicestershire-based homeless charity, also said people sleeping rough must be provided with more long-term help.

Funding manager for Action Homeless Eilidh Kennedy, said: “Putting a roof over someone’s head is just step one.

“We then try to look at what led the person to becoming homeless and settle them so that they don’t become homeless again.”

The charity also runs a ‘no second night out’ campaign in partnership with the council where they try to make sure anyone who finds themselves sleeping rough does not have to do so for longer than one night.

To find out more about Emmaus Leicestershire and Rutland, visit
emmaus.org.uk/leicestershire_rutland/.

For more information on Action Homeless, visit actionhomeless.org.uk/.

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