Homeless and sleeping on the streets of Wirral

Sleeping rough is a dangerous and traumatising experience. Library picture.

Sleeping rough is a dangerous and traumatising experience. Library picture.

First published in News
Last updated
Wirral Globe: Photograph of the Author by , Editor

NEW rules requiring councils to report the scale of dire poverty and destitution in their areas have revealed the number of rough sleepers across England continues to rise.

The number of people sleeping on the streets is now up by more than a third since 2010, in what critics called a “clear warning sign” of the impact of benefit cuts.

Counts and estimates compiled by local authorities in the autumn put the number at 2,414 - that's 105 more than the previous year and a 37% increase over three years.

Statistics sent by Wirral show there were seven people sleeping rough in the borough.

But homeless people's charity Crisis, which has a centre in Merseyside, said these figures only tell part of the story and that homelessness agencies across England often report seeing many more rough sleepers than official figures record.

In recognition of this, the Government recently overhauled the way it counts rough sleepers in an attempt to make it more accurate.

The new methodology consists of snapshot street counts and estimates by local authorities.

There has also been a broadening of the definition of what constitutes a "rough sleeper."

However, Crisis warns it should be noted these figures are a snapshot taken on one night and fall well short of what local agencies report over the course of a year.

Councillor George Davies, Wirral Council cabinet member for neighbourhoods, housing and engagement, said: “The figure of seven Wirral submitted for the number of rough sleepers on a typical night in 2013 is based on robust data provided by all agencies which work with rough sleepers in the borough.

“The council strives to do everything possible to prevent people from becoming homeless and take our legal duty to do so very seriously.

“We have a number of services in place to help vulnerable people who are struggling with their housing, many of which can be accessed through our network of One Stop Shops.”

He continued: “We have also seen an increase in the number of individuals and families presenting as homeless, who we have been able to support by providing emergency accommodation.

“We work closely with other public sector partners and voluntary organisations on a number of initiatives, including the ‘No Second Night Out’ campaign, which aims to put an end to rough sleeping across Merseyside.”

Labour said the rough sleeping rise was a “direct consequence” of Government policies.

Shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds said: "The Government was warned its policies risked increasing homelessness and rough sleeping but these warnings fell on deaf ears.”

Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said: “For years, the national figure on the numbers of rough sleepers failed to reflect the true situation on our streets.

“We've changed that so every council now has to report the scale of the problem in their area.

“We've also introduced the No Second Night Out initiative, which actively seeks to find and help hidden rough sleepers and means that 70% of rough sleepers spend no more than one night on the streets."

If you are concerned about someone who may be sleeping rough in Merseyside you can contact No Second Night Out on 0300 123 2041.

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Homeless and sleeping on the streets:

The Crisis website offers a vast amount of advice and information about homelessness.

It says sleeping rough is a dangerous and traumatising experience.

People who sleep rough are 35 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population

It is difficult to get an absolute figure for the number of people sleeping rough.

One reason for this is that, in order to protect themselves, many rough sleepers hide themselves away in places where they might be difficult to find and this is especially true for women. 44 per cent of current rough sleepers surveyed by Crisis reported that they had not had any contact with a rough sleepers’ team in the past month.

Homelessness is an isolating and destructive experience and homeless people are some of the most vulnerable and socially excluded in society.

Causes and consequences:

Crisis research looking at people's turning points into homelessness in the UK  found that reasons most often cited by male participants were relationship breakdown, substance misuse, and leaving an institution (prison, care, hospital etc.).

For homeless women,  the most common causes were physical or mental health problems and escaping a violent relationship.

There are also problems in wider society that can contribute towards homelessness.

These structural causes might include a lack of affordable housing; high levels of poverty, unemployment or worklessness; the way in which the benefits system operates; or the way social housing is rationed.

After years of declining trends, 2010 marked the turning point when all forms of homelessness began to rise.

However, it is likely that homelessness will increase yet further as the delayed effects of the economic downturn, cuts to housing benefit and other reforms all start to bite.

Comments (5)

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2:42pm Thu 27 Feb 14

mickey1more says...

So 7 people sleeping rough in the whole of the Wirral Borough of a population of 319,000 . Well I wonder where they are? Shouldn't be too hard to find them and give them proper shelter after a complete detox of Alochol.

Nice picture Wirral Globe, scare mongering again I see. Can anyone see this picture is in Wirral? No they can't and also it's in the summer it looks like.
So 7 people sleeping rough in the whole of the Wirral Borough of a population of 319,000 . Well I wonder where they are? Shouldn't be too hard to find them and give them proper shelter after a complete detox of Alochol. Nice picture Wirral Globe, scare mongering again I see. Can anyone see this picture is in Wirral? No they can't and also it's in the summer it looks like. mickey1more
  • Score: -8

3:14pm Thu 27 Feb 14

biscansplums says...

I have had the miss fortune of sleeping rough. I am neither a drug taker or an alcoholic, just a victim of unfortunate circumstances.
I have had the miss fortune of sleeping rough. I am neither a drug taker or an alcoholic, just a victim of unfortunate circumstances. biscansplums
  • Score: 15

5:55pm Thu 27 Feb 14

Joeblogg85 says...

Let's stop the talking and get these people some help. I have slept rough and it is a frightening experience. Sort it now.
Let's stop the talking and get these people some help. I have slept rough and it is a frightening experience. Sort it now. Joeblogg85
  • Score: 9

12:49pm Fri 28 Feb 14

benny07 says...

what about the 40 to 60 migrants living on the disused railway track right here under your noses in the centre of birkenhead,,the council cant say they did,nt know since they have been there for over a year ,& this encampment is increasing,,SO LABOUR CLLRS GET OFF YOUR BACKSIDES & DEAL WITH IT,,!! OR DOESNT IT MATTER WHEN YOU LIVE IN A MASSIVE NEW BUILT HOUSE IN SOUTH DRIVE ,UPTON ,OR YOUR PENTHOUSE IN NEW BRIGHTON,CLLR BRIAN KENNY,,?? WHY DONT YOU GET DOWN THER AN GET YOUR FAV,PAPER TO ORGANISE A PHOTO SHOOT.??.
what about the 40 to 60 migrants living on the disused railway track right here under your noses in the centre of birkenhead,,the council cant say they did,nt know since they have been there for over a year ,& this encampment is increasing,,SO LABOUR CLLRS GET OFF YOUR BACKSIDES & DEAL WITH IT,,!! OR DOESNT IT MATTER WHEN YOU LIVE IN A MASSIVE NEW BUILT HOUSE IN SOUTH DRIVE ,UPTON ,OR YOUR PENTHOUSE IN NEW BRIGHTON,CLLR BRIAN KENNY,,?? WHY DONT YOU GET DOWN THER AN GET YOUR FAV,PAPER TO ORGANISE A PHOTO SHOOT.??. benny07
  • Score: 10

10:16am Wed 5 Mar 14

Positive thinker says...

Benny07,

Can we please stop talking nonsense or prove we're these 40-60
people are sleeping rough
Benny07, Can we please stop talking nonsense or prove we're these 40-60 people are sleeping rough Positive thinker
  • Score: -2

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