South Tyneside is rough-sleeping blackspot

SLEEPING ROUGH ... South Tyneside has been identified as a regional blackspot.
SLEEPING ROUGH ... South Tyneside has been identified as a regional blackspot.

A NEW approach to tackling youth homelessness has been launched in South Tyneside as new statistics reveal the borough is a ‘sleeping rough’ blackspot.

The move comes as new research reveals that an average of 13 people sleep rough in the borough any given night – the highest figure in the region.

Three charities – Depaul UK, South Tyneside Churches Key Project and Places for People – have come together to work on the problem with South Tyneside Council.

Together the consortium aims to improve services to support local young people in hardship and at risk of homelessness.

As a consortium the three charities offer an extensive range of services – including family mediation, supported accommodation for under 25s, tenancy support and specialist support for young parents.

More importantly, they also aim to make sure all services for young people at risk of homelessness link up.

A new project recently set up by the consortium which reflects this new way of working is The Hub – a drop-in service at Tyne Dock in South Shields, where young people can get advice about housing, benefits, training and employment.

Earlier this year a report by South Tyneside Council on homelessness also revealed it was “fairly common” for some individuals to bed down in rubbish skips owned by larger stores in South Shields.

There was also a 54 per cent rise in borough households seeking homelessness assistance from the local authority last year.

In total, 534 people asked for help in 2012 – a rise of 187 on the previous year.

Experts predict the problem will continue to get worse during the coming years, as the impact of the Government’s welfare reforms kick in.

At a youth homelessness conference staged at South Shields Town Hall, South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck praised the “amazing work” of the consortium as she revealed that 2,309 people are “sleeping rough” each night across the UK.

She added: “The average age of those people is 26.

“Becoming homeless can happen to anyone and it can be triggered by several factors. I am so proud to have this new homelessness model in my constituency.”

Ted Haughey, consortium manager, believes the work is more important than ever. He said: “Families are facing increasing pressure in the current economic climate.

“The added stress this brings can often lead to young people leaving, or being forced to leave, home.

 “Young people are especially hit hard, with limited opportunities to get into work and afford a home of their own.

“Together, Depaul UK, Places for People and Key project work hard to ensure no vulnerable young person ends up on the street.

“When a young person is at a crisis point in their lives, we can help organise the accommodation, support and advice that is so crucial in times of crisis.”.

For more information about the consortium’s work, call Mr Haughey on 496 9710.

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul

A ‘CHRONIC’ lack of affordable housing and welfare reforms such as the bedroom tax have led to a surge in the number of rough sleepers and people turning to emergency accommodation, says a new report.

An independent study by homeless charity Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that the number of people using temporary accommodation has risen by 10 per cent in the last financial year, with the number of bed and breakfast placements up 14 per cent.

The report also found that rough sleeping increased by six per cent nationwide last year.

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: “Cuts to housing benefit and woefully inadequate house building will keep pushing up homelessness.

“Shamefully, it is the poorest and most vulnerable who are bearing the brunt.

“We need the Government to address the chronic lack of affordable housing, take real steps to improve the private rented sector, and to urgently consider the impact its cuts to housing benefit are having.” Welfare cuts and benefit reforms were cited as key factors in the rise of homelessness, including the controversial bedroom tax.

Caps in housing benefit are also making it difficult for people to find somewhere to rent from a landlord, the study concluded.

Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, added: “Homelessness is the tragic consequence of failures in our housing system, and carries enormous cost for both the people facing destitution and society as a whole.

“To avoid these figures going in the wrong direction, we need to address the underlying causes of homelessness urgently.”