Mansfield District Council say there are only 17 rough sleepers in the town

Mansfield District Council say there are only 17 rough sleepers in the town
Mansfield District Council say there are only 17 rough sleepers in the town

As part of an annual national survey of rough sleepers, 17 people were counted as rough sleepers in Mansfield, compared with 15 people last year.

The count was carried out by Framework's Street Outreach Team and other volunteers who visited more than 100 locations across the district.

The figures contradict the numbers published earlier this week by homelessness charity, Shelter, which stated that more than 250 people across Ashfield and Mansfield are currently homeless.

READ MORE: More than 250 people across Mansfield and Ashfield are officially homeless

Councillor Barry Answer, Mansfield District Council’s portfolio holder for housing, said: “The council's view is that one person sleeping rough is one person too many and while Mansfield has seen a slight increase in the number of rough sleepers, it should be seen within the context of the national picture which has seen homelessness and rough sleeping rise across the country.

"The council provides, with our partners, various support services for rough sleepers, such as an outreach worker, a mental health nurse, and a substance abuse worker, who all try to engage with rough sleepers and encourage them to accept appropriate help.

"Unlike most other areas of the UK, because we have our own in-house provision of temporary accommodation, we usually manage to help homeless people in Mansfield without having to resort to using inappropriate and expensive bed and breakfast space.

"On top of the shelters that every council has to provide during severe cold weather, Mansfield goes above and beyond its duty to help rough sleepers by providing a night shelter every night between December and March."

Over the past year, Mansfield District Council has worked with Framework to help 14 rough sleepers access appropriate support and accommodation.

In accordance with the new Homelessness Reduction Act, the council has this year refocused its Housing services to identify people at risk of eviction earlier through, for example, rent arrears or a reduction in their benefits, and put in place support that could prevent them from losing their home.

Councillor Answer said: "Mansfield was already practising many of the preventative elements of the Act before it became law and this early intervention work has helped prevent hundreds of people from becoming homeless over the past three years.

"With the introduction of the new Act, we have built on this approach to ensure we catch even more people before they become homeless."

Through the Mansfield Homeless Network, the council has been working with Framework, local charities and voluntary agencies, the police and the council's Community Safety team to provide practical help for rough sleepers and people threatened with homelessness.

This includes directing people to outreach services to tackle drug and alcohol addiction, healthcare and mental health services, and to the Citizens' Advice Bureau for help with managing debt.

Coun Answer added: “The causes of homelessness are complex and varied and cannot be solved by just giving someone a key.

"As a council, we are committed to supporting vulnerable people to get back on their feet in a more holistic way that is tailored to their individual needs and is more likely to bring about a sustainable solution to underlying issues."

If you see someone who is homeless, please contact the Framework Street Outreach 24-hour hotline on 0800 066 5356, to ensure they are offered the necessary support.

The council is due to launch a website and a public information campaign to highlight the wide range of support already available and to encourage people to volunteer their time and donate items and money to existing charities and support groups.