Guest column: Please remember the homeless this Christmas

Homelessness figures have increased this year. Picture: Andrew Roe
Homelessness figures have increased this year. Picture: Andrew Roe

This year has seen an increase in those becoming homeless and sleeping on the streets.

This is clearly being seen throughout Bassetlaw and Worksop, especially in the last couple of months.

This comes as the current economic climate offers even greater difficulties to those at the margins of society.

At a time when councils are struggling with diminishing resources and growing demands for services, welfare cuts, changes to benefits and the implementation of Universal Credit, it has left growing numbers of people struggling to keep a roof over their heads, and feed their families.

Unfortunately, demand for our service is rising. More people are presenting themselves, seeking a bed for the night, especially at this time of year, as the temperature begins to plummet.

We are Nottinghamshire’s only direct access emergency accommodation hostel. Planning regulations had limited us to 14 crisis beds, not nearly enough to accommodate everyone who knocks on our door.

We try not to turn anyone away, but as demand for our services continues to rise, we find it increasingly difficult to accommodate everyone who knocks on our door.

It is a very difficult thing to have to do and we work to ensure that we give those who we cannot accommodate sleeping bags, warm clothing, food and as much help as we can.

We receive very generous donations of much-needed items such as these from the local public and faith groups around the district, as well as many businesses.

Whilst HOPE welcomes the Homeless Reduction Act, passed this year and to be implemented in 2018, which will include everyone who is homeless or at risk of eviction within that duty of care, without additional funding being made available to meet that commitment we doubt it will make much impact.

We believe it is highly questionable whether the reality on the ground, and on the streets where HOPE works and where more and more are seeking our help, there will be little likelihood of it making the situation better.

What is clear is that this year, in just over a week’s time, we shall be able to give all of our residents and those sleeping rough a little hope at Christmas — an individual present.

This is only possible because of the very kind generosity of local people who have responded to our Christmas appeal, once again.

We are extremely grateful to everyone who has donated so far, and we know that our service users will be even more appreciative.

For more details about HOPE’s work and how you can support it visit the website at www.hopeservices.org.uk.