05:00PM, Friday 06 March 2020
The Royal Borough recorded a 264 per cent increase in rough sleepers last year – the second largest rise in England.
This is despite national figures showing the number of people estimated to be sleeping rough on a single night falling for the second year in a row, according to the government’s ‘Rough sleeping snapshot in England: autumn 2019’.
The report, released last week, shows that the number of recorded rough sleepers in the Royal Borough has increased from 11 people in 2018 to 40 people in autumn 2019, the most recent data available.
According to the report, the borough has said that the increase in rough sleepers could simply be because more rough sleepers are being recorded ‘due to increased intelligence and knowledge’.
This tallies with the perception of Nick Roberts, project manager for Windsor Homeless Project.
“In our data, we count about 10-11 rough sleepers a night in Windsor,” he said. “Now the numbers are matching the numbers we’ve got.”
However, Sue Brett, founder of The Brett Foundation homeless charity in Maidenhead, feels that there has been a real increase in rough sleepers in the borough.
Sue reports that about 20 people used the Brett Foundation’s services every day in 2018, a number that has increased to 25-30 recently.
She highlighted that it can be difficult to get accurate numbers, based on head counts.
“I’ve done the count. Sometimes, people are well hidden and it’s difficult to find them,” she said.
“Some people don’t want to be counted. They don’t want to be in the system.”
Cllr Ross McWilliams (Con, Cox Green), lead member for housing, said: “Changing the way we measure the number of people sleeping rough means we have a much clearer understanding of how many people we need to help.
“There is always more to do, but the compassionate, thorough and co-operative approach of our Housing Options and Outreach teams is helping long-term rough sleepers.”
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