Low numbers of rough sleepers in Darlington but help is on hand
An annual count to determine the number of people sleeping rough in the borough of Darlington has concluded there are three people sleeping on the streets.
Each year the 12 local authorities in the North East Regional Homeless Group take part in a count on the same night – this year it was 17 October – to provide a snapshot of the numbers of people sleeping rough in the region.
The 2018 figure for Darlington is the same as that reported in 2017.
Staff from the council’s Housing Options team liaised with contacts across council services – such as housing, finance, social services and Streetscene – as well as charities, NHS services, probation and other public bodies to ensure they had as much information as possible ahead of the count.
The three people identified as part of the count were all spoken to by members of the outreach team and were offered support, but they each declined assistance.
Darlington has well-established systems for supporting anyone who presents as a rough sleeper in the borough.
The housing options team works with the 700 Club, a homeless charity, to operate an outreach service called No Second Night Out – the aim is that no-one who finds themselves sleeping on the streets ever has to spend more than one night in that position.
In the year 2017/18, the housing options team provided interim accommodation for people in the following areas:
No Second Night Out – 51 people
Severe weather emergency protocols – 40 people
Sofa surfing – 109 people
In addition, each person was offered and/or accepted support to access more settled accommodation as well as support to access to GP services, drug, alcohol and mental health support or help with education and employment opportunities.
There are a number of beggars in Darlington town centre areas but it has been established by the outreach teams, working with the police, that each person involved in begging does have accommodation and is not sleeping rough.
Councillor Andy Scott, cabinet member for health and partnerships, said: “While we would rather that no-one is having to sleep rough in Darlington, we have to recognise that each of the three people identified as rough sleeping on this occasion do have the right to decline help and support.
“That offer of help and support is always available and the outreach team will continue to liaise with the three – and anyone else who presents as a rough sleeper in the borough.
“The excellent work done by the outreach team from 700 Club and the council’s housing options team means that potential rough sleepers are quickly identified and offered the help they need to find accommodation and move forward.”
Members of the public are encouraged to play their part and can report anyone they fear may be rough sleeping to the council’s housing options team or the 700 Club by calling 01325 405333 or 01642 524552 (emergency out of hours number) or by emailing [email protected]
There is also a national helpline, Streetlink, on 0300 500 0914 which provides a 24 hour service to report rough sleepers, which will be passed immediately to the council and the 700 Club.