Council action as rough sleeping triples in Mansfield

Rough sleeper Timothy Wormall pictured at a homeless camp last summer.
Rough sleeper Timothy Wormall pictured at a homeless camp last summer.
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The number of people sleeping rough in Mansfield has more than trebled in the past year, according to new council stats.

Mansfield District Council has revealed the increase, from eight people last year to 27 after an investigation by the Chad discovered council numbers were far from reality.

Sources said the number of rough sleepers fluctuates between 30 and 40, prompting a campaign to promote the need for more homeless services, particularly after cuts to funding led to the closure all Framework' homeless prevention activities outside Nottingham City.

Conflicting with the council's stats, we learnt that at least 100 tents had been donated to rough sleepers in the space of a few months last year.

The council said in a snapshot taken in the Autumn, compiling data from the Mansfield Homeless Network, Nottinghamshire Police and a range of voluntary sector and outreach workers, the report shows an increase in known rough sleepers in the past year, and has only released the information today, January 6.

Councillor Barry Answer, portfolio holder for housing, said after the rise in rough sleepers the council is working with frame work to introduce a new 'street outreach team'.

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He said: “Unfortunately there are more vulnerable people sleeping on our streets this year. This is a national issue but locally we are working with members of the Mansfield Homeless Network to support those who need help the most.

"In a recent meeting of the Mansfield Homeless Network, agencies pledged their increased support in 2017 to work with rough sleepers in the town and provide more help at the point of need. Mansfield District Council is working in partnership with Framework to introduce a street outreach team to make contact with persons sleeping rough. The team will be based in Mansfield and should be in place early 2017. The YMCA has recently extended support to provide accommodation for homeless people up to the age of 35."

Mansfield District Council said it will continue to provide prevention services to help people who are at risk of becoming homeless. The authority is also part of a county wide project that has been successful in bidding for new funding to intervene early with rough sleepers before their problems become entrenched.

"Members of the network will continue to provide support services in Mansfield including soup kitchens, signposting and outreach," said a spokesperson. "Mansfield District Council will once again be running a weekend winter shelter until February 2017 to provide shelter and hot food. The Winter Shelter gives the Housing Solutions team an opportunity to engage with rough sleepers and try to assist them into settled accommodation.

The council and Mansfield police station have also formed a task group to work in the town centre with homeless people and rough sleepers. The group brings together officers from the Mansfield Community Partnership Hub, Town Team and the district council’s Housing Solutions team each month to discuss and agree on action to be taken in the town centre to help rough sleepers get back on their feet.

Neil Skinner of Framework said: "27 is an extremely high number fr a place the size of Mansfield."

"In Nottingham we were finding two months ago 30-40 people sleeping rough which is the highest since 1997, so the fact there is that number in Mansfield is incredibly high."