West Norfolk Council officials aim to tackle the rasing number of rough sleepers by introducing a new homeless reduction act.
The Homeless Reduction Act 2017, which is expected to be implemented in April 2018, will owe a duty towards homeless households and those threatened with homelessness, to refer rough sleepers to a local housing authority, and to provide advice and information to prevent and relieve homelessness.
The number of rough sleepers on Lynn’s streets rose from five in 2015 to 42 in 2016.
Lead officer, Shelia Farley said: “There has been an unprecedented rise in the number of people rough sleeping. This is especially difficult for the council as there is not a specialist service for rough sleepers in the area.
“Instances of rough sleeping are considered on a case by case basis, having regard to individual needs.
“Solutions using existing services and emergency bed are utilised whenever possible. However, rough sleepers may not wish to engage with the council or other services or take up the offers of emergency accommodation.”
The high demand and lack of available settled accommodation led to an increase in the use of temporary accommodation, including doubling the use of bed and breakfasts between August and November 2016.
With an aim to open a night shelter two nights a week for those sleeping on Lynn’s streets, Imagine Norfolk Together, which is a joint initiative between the Diocese of Norwich and the Church Urban Fund, intend to offer beds and refreshments to rough sleepers.
Organiser, Andrew Frere-Smith said: “What we are hoping to do is a night shelter on a Friday night and a Saturday night at Perfleet Trust.
“The night shelter will open at around 5pm until 8pm, and we intend to have 15 clients who will receive an evening meal and breakfast.
“We were chuffed when Purfleet Trust said they wanted to get behind it. We just need people to volunteer.
“It very difficult for a rough sleeper to find anywhere to get out of the cold on a night. Most rough sleepers go outside the town to try and get some sleep. The night shelter will make the world of difference to them.”
If you are interested in volunteering or would like more information about King’s Lynn night shelter call 07949 964932.