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Fall in Rough Sleeping Just the Tip-of-the-Iceberg

Our Chief Executive responds to the Government's latest Rough Sleeping Snapshot in England for Autumn 2020.

The figures, released on Thursday 25th February, show the number of rough sleepers on a single night in Southend down 75%, with only eight people counted rough sleeping on one night in November, compared to 32 the previous year. But these numbers should be approached with caution, says HARP.

Jackie Bliss, HARP’s Chief Executive, said: “Whilst such a big drop in the number of people counted rough sleeping is undoubtedly great news, eight people without a roof over their head is still eight people too many.

“This figure is simply a snapshot of the number of people who were visibly rough sleeping on one single night of the year and does not take into account the ever-changing and complex picture of homelessness.”

At HARP, we support around 1,200 each year who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, and house around 220 formerly homeless people every night of the year.

Jackie said: “Rough sleeping is the visible face of homelessness, but sadly it is just the tip of the iceberg, with many more individuals in our town classed as hidden homeless or at risk, including people who are sofa-surfing or staying in temporary or precarious accommodation.”

The latest count took place in November, when many people who had formerly been rough sleeping in Southend, or had become homeless since the start of the pandemic, were temporarily accommodated in local B&Bs as part of the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ programme.

Jackie continued: “One of the few good things to come out of this pandemic has been the effective and coordinated response to get people rough sleeping off the streets, but there is more work to be done if homelessness is to become a thing of the past.

"Whilst the actions taken so far have been effective in the short term, it’s important to not get complacent - we still need a long-term Government strategy, alongside adequate funding and support, which addresses the root causes of homelessness. Our job is not yet done.”


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