Official rough sleeper figures released by the government yesterday (Thursday 31 January) show the numbers have reduced by 55 per cent in the Canterbury district, compared to a reduction of just two per cent across England, in the last year.
A total of 33 rough sleepers were recorded at the district’s formal annual count in November last year. Of these, 16 were verified (seen on the night) and 17 were unverified (not seen on the night but known to the authorities).
This compares to a total of 73 in November 2017 – 36 verified and 37 unverified. This is a drop of 55 per cent. Across England, there has been a reduction in the number of rough sleepers from 4,751 to 4,677.
And at a follow up count in the Canterbury district last Thursday (24 January), the number had reduced still further, to 26. The verified figure was 16, the unverified figure was seven and three people were in accommodation under the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol.
Chairman of Canterbury City Council’s Community Committee, Cllr Neil Baker, said: “These are encouraging figures and it is good to see progress being made in trying to tackle the difficult and complex issue of rough sleeping.
“The incredible work of our partner organisations Catching Lives and Porchlight, coupled with the dedication of council officers and their ability to secure large amounts of funding from the government for a wide variety of projects, is really making a difference.
“There is, though, plenty still to do. All agencies agree that one rough sleeper is one too many and we will continue to do all we can to keep the number falling.”
Over the last two years, the council has successfully bid for £550,000 of government cash for projects including an expansion of the winter night shelter from three months to six, greater community outreach work, an increase in the provision of SWEP and the recruitment of a full time Street Population Co-ordinator at the council.