H.O.S.T.S (Homeless Organisations Stick Together in Swindon), members have expressed increased concerns over the numbers of people accessing homeless services.
Numbers at the Breakfast Club, Filling Station, Food Bank and Day Centre have all increased by around 20% in the last twelve months.
Outreach workers are coping with a 34% increase in contacts, whilst the number of occasions on which the direct access accommodation at Booth House and Culvery Court have had to turn people away has also increased by 34% over the last year.
The numbers sleeping rough are also rising. The Filling Station has been supplying tents as well as blankets to those who can’t get into hostel accommodation.
Speaking for H.O.S.T.S, Angus Macpherson said “We need more bed spaces for both direct access and supported living for single people with drug, alcohol and mental health issues. As the main reason for homelessness is relationship breakdowns, and for young people that includes parental exclusion, we must be concerned by the increase in demand for the Food Bank services. Financial pressure in homes is building up, which coupled with high levels of youth unemployment lead us to fear that more people will be accessing our services.”
The group also expressed concerns over changes in housing benefit for young people to be introduced in January. “Changes are being introduced which will affect those aged between 25 to 35. They will be paid housing benefit on shared room rate rather than a single room rate. It is estimated that around 250 people in the Borough will be affected by the change and it will make accessing accommodation even more difficult for this group”
Angus Macpherson added “The Swindon Housing Strategy 2008-2013 was a successful initiative of the Borough Council and much has been achieved. However the economic climate is now so fundamentally different that we need a new strategy to reflect today’s world.”