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Published on Friday 26 February 2021

Numbers of vulnerable people sleeping rough on the streets in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole have reduced by 65 per cent in the last year according to latest government figures.

In BCP Council’s latest official street count in November 2020, 25 individuals were recorded as sleeping rough on the streets in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole. This compares to 72 recorded in November 2019.

Since the November count, in the latest MHCLG bi-monthly count the figure has since reduced again to 13, the lowest number of rough sleepers counted for the area in more than 10 years.

The reduction in numbers of people on the streets follows huge efforts by the council and its many statutory and voluntary sector partners who have been working throughout the pandemic to help people sleeping rough by encouraging them to take up the offer of emergency accommodation and support through the ‘Everyone In’ initiative.

Since March 2020, more than 370 people who were either sleeping rough or at immediate risk of being on the streets such as sofa surfing, have been supported into emergency accommodation. The aim is to support these individuals into more longer-term accommodation with support to move towards a more positive future.

Councillor Hazel Allen, BCP Council Lead Member for Homelessness said:

"It’s really positive to see that the numbers of people that are sleeping rough has reduced in our towns. Together with our partners, we have been working hard throughout the pandemic to help people into emergency accommodation and with the additional funding received from government we have been able to provide the intensive ongoing support and accommodation options needed to help people longer term and prevent them from returning to the streets.

She added: "However, we know that homelessness is an ongoing issue, and despite the falling numbers we will continue our efforts. No one should have to sleep rough and so we are committed to investing in our services to reduce the numbers of people facing homelessness."

Andrew Teale, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Street Outreach Service Manager for St Mungo’s, said:

"These figures are a real testament to the sheer hard work and tenacity of everyone in our outreach team who has been working flat out throughout the pandemic to support people away from the streets into safe accommodation.

"Undeniably, the pandemic has given us an unprecedented opportunity to build relationships with people on the streets who previously have, for their own reasons, preferred not to engage with our team. We have seen many people connect, for the first time, with vital services in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole to support with drug and alcohol use, mental health, physical health and wellbeing.

"However, we know that homelessness is not a static issue. With the economic downturn and increased unemployment it is more important than ever that we are able to provide rapid support to get people off the streets and, importantly, into suitable, long-term accommodation.

"It has been a privilege to be part of such a ground-breaking and collaborative response to the crisis, and shows just what can be achieved when homelessness organisations, local government and health services work even better together in circumstances such as this. It is vital that we take this emergency response and translate it into a new approach that will help us move towards an end to rough sleeping."

In the last couple of months, BCP Council received more than £1 million of funding to support people who are rough sleeping or at risk of being on the streets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All local authorities are required to carry out a statutory rough sleeper street count every year in November and report to Ministry of Housing and Local Government.

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