Sleeping rough in the snow

Not only is it Homelessness Awareness Week, it’s also the coldest week of the year which has made many of us acutely aware of the plight of a rising number of people sleeping rough on our streets.

Homelessness continues to rise across the country and the latest figures published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in autumn 2017 estimated the total number of rough sleepers at 4,751, up 617, or 15% from the autumn 2016 total of 4,134. The number of rough sleepers increased by 173, or 18% in London and 444 or 14% in the rest of England since autumn 2016. Local to MPC head office, the Bristol Post reported that there are now nearly 2,800 recorded homeless in the city.

Local charities such as St. Mungos and Caring in Bristol work tirelessly to provide support services to those in difficulty; coordinating provision of emergency shelters and supplies, particularly at times like this where the weather conditions pose a serious risk to the lives of those sleeping outside. What though, is local government doing to help?

Bristol is in the grip of an affordable housing crisis and rental prices are crippling for many, even for those in regular employment, making the prospect of homelessness a far more real possibility for many who might never have imagined it could happen to them. Bristol city council’s approach is to focus on early intervention, there are a range of services available to those concerned about losing their home according to the Council website but making people aware of these services may not be so easy.

Cllr Paul Smith, cabinet member for Homes and Communities, is quoted in the Bristol Post as saying “Work on reducing homelessness is gathering pace and underpinning all of this is our work on increasing the development of new social and council housing and affordable housing is also gathering pace as we are on track to get to a development programme of 800 affordable homes per year by 2020.”

A drive to provide more affordable housing may be one part of the puzzle but in the meantime what else can be done by the property industry to help?

Land Aid is a charity which brings together businesses and individuals from across the property industry to support charities delivering life-changing services for young people who are or have been homeless, or who are at risk of homelessness in the future.

One of our client's, Generator, will be joining in the big sleep out in London tonight, organised by Land Aid. They are hoping to raise £75,000 to provide emergency accommodation for young people in London. Donations to Land Aid can be made here.

If you are concerned about someone who is rough sleeping, anyone can make a street referral via Streetlink.org.uk

This article was written by Jess Pickett, Marketing Assistant at MPC.