Record High in Rough Sleepers in Cheshire West and Chester

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Cheshire West and Chester have witnessed a distressing surge in rough sleeping, with figures hitting a record high, according to the latest data released by the Government. The statistics unveiled a stark reality, indicating a substantial rise from 10 rough sleepers in 2022 to 22 in 2023, marking the highest count since 2010, as far back as the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ records extend.

Nevertheless, the council has offered a perspective that tempers the gravity of the situation slightly, suggesting that these figures represent a singular snapshot of one evening. According to council representatives, subsequent to the recorded increase, the numbers have shown signs of regression. They stated, “Our autumn single-night snapshot of rough sleepers was taken on November 9, 2023, and found 22 individuals sleeping rough, which was up by 12 from 2022.”

Despite this initial spike, the numbers have exhibited a degree of fluctuation in the ensuing months. In December, the count ranged from two to 10, averaging four individuals per day. Similarly, in January, the figures varied between two to 14, with an average of seven individuals per day. Notably, many of those identified during the November survey are already known to support services, indicating prolonged periods of homelessness or intermittent rough sleeping.

The broader national context paints a concerning picture, with an overarching upward trajectory in rough sleeping figures across the UK. The nationwide tally for 2023 stood at 3,898, reflecting a notable surge of 27 per cent from the preceding year’s count of 3,069. This number represents more than double the figure recorded in 2010, which underscores the severity and persistence of the issue.

Council representatives highlighted various factors contributing to this concerning trend, citing challenges that exacerbate the vulnerability of the UK population to rough sleeping while hampering effective responses. They emphasised that despite ongoing efforts to provide temporary accommodation, such as hotel rooms, many individuals find such arrangements unsuitable and ultimately return to the streets due to a lack of adequate support. This situation underscores the critical need for supported housing tailored to the complex needs of vulnerable homeless individuals.

Addressing their strategy to combat the issue, council authorities reiterated their unwavering commitment to eradicating rough sleeping within the borough. Key initiatives include prioritising demand management and prevention strategies to mitigate homelessness risks, bolstering the supply of supported housing through initiatives like Christleton Road, Curzon House, and Sutton Beeches, and expanding permanent move-on accommodation options.

Moreover, the council has set ambitious targets for affordable housing construction, aiming to build 450 new affordable homes in 2023-24, with plans for further expansions in the subsequent fiscal year. Additionally, forthcoming initiatives in 2024-25 will see the launch of pilot projects designed to enhance collaboration with private landlords to secure housing solutions for homeless individuals.

Furthermore, the council reaffirmed its commitment to collaborative efforts with housing association partners to provide immediate assistance to vulnerable individuals during extreme weather conditions under the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol.

In summary, while the surge in rough sleeping figures in Cheshire West and Chester is indeed alarming, concerted efforts by local authorities and partners offer a glimmer of hope in addressing this pressing social issue. However, sustained commitment, comprehensive strategies, and community collaboration will be imperative to effecting lasting change and ensuring that nobody is left without shelter or support on the streets of the borough.

Lauren Redford
Lauren Redford
Journalist Lauren Redford is a seasoned business journalist who focuses on regional areas throughout the United Kingdom. With her expertise and dedication, Lauren brings insightful coverage of local communities and their economic landscapes. With a meticulous approach and a passion for storytelling, she uncovers stories that resonate with readers and offers a deeper understanding of the business world. Lauren's commitment to delivering accurate and engaging news makes her a valuable member of the News Write Ups team.

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