‘Dozens’ may sleep rough across Mansfield district

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MANSFIELD still has dozens of people sleeping rough on its streets and needs to tackle the issue, campaigners have said.

More needs to be done said Framework, the Nottingham-based charity supporting homeless people.

The group took the message to Parliament at a reception to mark its 10th anniversary.

Framework service director Peter Radage said last year’s Homeless Watch Survey, compiled by organisations working with homeless people, identified 29 local rough sleepers.

“Mansfield consistently shows the highest level of rough sleeping in Nottinghamshire outside of Nottingham city and it continues to be a persistent problem.” he said.

Mansfield MP Sir Alan Meale spoke on the issue at the Parliamentary event and backed the charity.

“People treat homeless people as if they are invisible,” said Sir Alan.

“Mansfield is not exempt when it comes to this problem and we have to do whatever we can to help them, not only at Christmas, but 365 days a year.”

Volunteer John Coxhead set up a ‘hot meal run’ for homeless people in the town around two years ago.

He is now hoping to make it more permanent, and it will run at Framework’s Mansfield Sherwood Street centre on Sunday.

John keeps his own lists of names of people who turn up for the meals.

Around 40 attend each session, and John has collected more than 200 different names overall.

He said the current Mansfield rough sleeper total could even be around ‘150-plus’.

“But with ‘settee surfers’, (people staying temporarily with friends) the number of people without a permanent home will be higher,” said John.

“Effort needs to be focused on getting these people into accommodation.”

Mansfield District Council’s figures suggest the number of homeless people locally is stable, with 426 folk approaching it for homelessness advice from April to October, one less than the total for the same period last year.

Said the council’s portfolio holder for tenancy services and housing needs, Coun Mick Colley: “We do as much as we can; we are trying to address it and no-one should be sleeping rough but I think it could get worse with the austerity measures the Government is throwing at local councils.”