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Annual Count Shows Fewer People Sleeping Rough in Bedford Borough

February 3, 2019 12:36 PM
Originally published by Dave Hodgson - Mayor of Bedford Borough

Mayor Dave Hodgson with Bedford Borough MapLatest figures have shown that there are a third fewer people sleeping rough in Bedford Borough than there were one year ago, with work continuing to support rough sleepers and reduce the figure further.

Increasing levels of rough sleeping have been a national concern, with figures showing that the number of people rough sleeping has more than doubled in recent years. The latest figures have shown a national decrease of 2% in the number of people rough sleeping compared to the year before. Bedford Borough has seen 33% decrease in the number of people sleeping rough.

Every year, Bedford Borough Council and partners carry out a Rough Sleeper Count as part of a national exercise. This aims to give an accurate view of how many people are sleeping rough in the Borough.

This Count was carried out in November 2018, and showed that 51 people were sleeping rough in Bedford Borough that night, compared to 76 in November 2017.

The Council has been proactive in supporting those rough sleeping. In working with partners including SMART and the King's Arms Project, the Council has been able to support ongoing outreach teams to ensure those sleeping rough are contacted regularly and offered help.

There is also a range of accommodation for vulnerable people and those rough sleeping across the Borough, including Clarence House; a complex needs and supported housing project, hostel provision, and Bedford Nightshelter.

A recent successful bid for funding by the Council saw a range of extended and additional services being provided in Bedford Borough including:

  • the provision of an extra 20 beds open every single night through winter in addition to the severe weather beds available to all rough sleepers during cold weather
  • funding for 44 additional units of accommodation
  • more outreach and support staff to help rough sleepers off the street and into accommodation

Outreach teams have already supported 12 people off the streets and into long-term accommodation. A number of rough sleepers have also been supported into temporary accommodation including 8 people moved off the streets and into accommodation provided by our partners 'The Kings Arms Project', with intense support to find employment and long-term accommodation.

This additional support was made possible after a successful bid for over £300,000 from the Government under the Rough Sleeper Initiative Fund.

Mayor Dave Hodgson said "It's encouraging that things are going in the right direction, but it's vital this continues. Alongside excellent local charities and other partner organisations and their staff and volunteers, we'll keep working to help people get off the streets and stay off the streets."

If you are aware of someone sleeping you can report their location and any details to Bedford's Rough Sleeper Street Outreach Partnership through the national rough sleeping report line at www.streetlink.org.uk. Bedford Borough Council also encourages anyone sleeping rough to go to the Prebend Day Centre and speak to the staff there to get support.