According to a recent government snapshot, the number of people sleeping rough in Canterbury has dropped from 50 to 33 in the last two years. But if you were to ask the Kent Homeless Charity Porchlight they say it’s a very different story. Nathan Tough from the charity explained why Canterbury was a hub for homeless people.
“A lot of people that are homeless in Kent, they would sort of, gravitate towards Canterbury. Because it’s so densely populated, people feel that little bit safer there with the level of visibility. ”Nathan Tough – Porchlight
Porchlight claim the snapshot does not accurately represent homelessness in Kent let alone in Canterbury. The snapshot was taken during the winter while Severe Weather Emergency Protocol or SWEP was in place. This protocol calls for temporary shelter to be given to the homeless if temperatures drop below zero for three consecutive days. Now on a night like tonight when it’s only three degrees this would not be in place for people sleeping rough.
Porchlight claim this could have caused the snapshot to show such a drastic drop in rough sleepers at the end of 2018. Homelessness is in fact on the rise according to Porchlight rather than the alleged 2% drop that has been boasted by the government. And Nathan Tough thinks this is why the figures appear to be going down.
Another Canterbury-based homelessness charity Catching Lives also weighed in on the new statistics. Paul Todd a project worker from the charity believes the government should talk to local outreach services to get a more reliable figure.
“The fact of the matter is it does not actually reflect the actual situation. So, it’s an answer to a question but it’s not necessarily the right question. They should be also talking to people like ourselves who operate night shelters and having a proper look to see how many people are actually homeless.Paul Todd – Catching Lives
The government were approached for comment but did not respond.