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Rough sleepers helped off the streets by new support team

PUBLISHED: 12:32 06 December 2018 | UPDATED: 13:06 06 December 2018

A new rough sleeper support team has seen success in west Suffolk Picture: THINKSTOCK

A new rough sleeper support team has seen success in west Suffolk Picture: THINKSTOCK

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A new support team to combat homelessness in west Suffolk has contributed to a reduction in the number of rough sleepers in the area, the council has revealed.

A campaign to change the way people give to the homeless has been launched Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCILSA campaign to change the way people give to the homeless has been launched Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCILS

A team of five rough sleeper support workers was created in September after successful bids by west Suffolk councils for government funds.

Since September, the team has helped rough sleepers off the streets and into accommodation on 31 occasions.

The team has also prevented people from returning to rough sleeping on 18 occasions, which has led to a reduction in the number of homeless people in the area.

There are currently around 20 people sleeping rough in the Bury St Edmunds area and approximately another two in other parts of west Suffolk.

Left to right: Sonia Plume, acting inspector at Bury St Edmunds, Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds, David Bonnett, Bury Drop In co-founder, Greg Luton, Bury St Edmunds town clerk, Sara Mildmay-White, cabinet member for housing, Andrew Speed, chairman of Bury Town Council, Robert Everitt, cabinet member for families and communities, and PC Paul Fox, community engagement officer Picture: MICHAEL STEWARDLeft to right: Sonia Plume, acting inspector at Bury St Edmunds, Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds, David Bonnett, Bury Drop In co-founder, Greg Luton, Bury St Edmunds town clerk, Sara Mildmay-White, cabinet member for housing, Andrew Speed, chairman of Bury Town Council, Robert Everitt, cabinet member for families and communities, and PC Paul Fox, community engagement officer Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD

That compares to about 25 in Bury St Edmunds three months ago out of a total of around 36 in west Suffolk.

Sara Mildmay-White, west Suffolk councils cabinet member for housing, said: “Helping people off of the streets is not as simple as providing them accommodation and giving them a key.

“Many of our rough sleepers need support for addiction and/or mental health issues if they are to maintain a roof over their head and work toward a more permanent form of accommodation.

“Over the past year the council has invested in all-year round accommodation to help rough sleepers off of the streets.

“Crucially with that accommodation, comes support staff to help the individuals with whatever issues they face to try to prevent them from returning to the streets.

“We have support and accommodation available which means that we are unlikely to need a winter night shelter.”

At the same time the Bury Drop In centre has launched an alternative giving campaign called Looking For Change, backed by a number of partners.

The campaign encourages people not to give money directly to people on the streets as it may be spent on drink or drugs, which makes it more difficult to get a person into accommodation.

Sometimes the people who appear to be homeless have a home and are simply preying on public goodwill, it is said.

Instead people can donate by text to the Drop In by texting WROO36 £(Amount) to 70070 or visit www.justgiving.com/burydropin

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