E&E | Exeter homeless charity reveals big rise in the number of rough city sleepers

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10 January 2016

Exeter homeless charity reveals big rise in the number of rough city sleepers

Homelessness is increasing in Exeter

Exeter homeless charity St Petrock’s has released figures that show numbers of people rough sleeping and vulnerably housed are continuing to rise.

Its annual report for 2014-15 stated that visits to the centre and use of services went up by 26 per cent over the last three years.

During 2014-15 the charity made 1,241 assessments for clients seeking their services and stated that “the high cost of private renting and the lack of affordable housing continues to be a real issue in the city. Loss of income impacts on a client’s ability to maintain their accommodation as well as having a negative effect on their overall wellbeing.”

The most cited reasons for becoming homeless were relationship breakdown, drug alcohol and mental health issues, eviction, problems with benefit payments and job loss.

Around a third of clients seen during this period were new to rough sleeping.

More than half, 57 per cent, had suspected or diagnosed mental health issues. Sixty per cent had a criminal history, 47 per cent had a history of substance abuse and 11 per cent of clients were women.

The report reveals 1,666 homeless and vulnerably housed people were supported by the charity and 12,456 visits were made to the centre by clients.

It helped 913 people into accommodation and 83 per cent of those accommodated through their private rented service were able to maintain the accommodation for six months or longer.

The total cost of running services came to £472,899 for 2014-15.

Services that St Petrock’s run include their walk in centre where homeless people can get advice and support as well as clothing, supplies, food and access to running water, as well as housing support and the extreme weather night shelter.

There is also now a three month long winter night shelter, begun in December 2015 and run through Exeter City Council.

Community funding such as donations of gifts and financial aid from individuals, schools, churches and businesses amounted to 32 per cent of its income.

Project Manager Mel Hartley said: “The fact that we were able to maintain this fantastic level of support during economic downturn is testament to the outstanding generosity of local people.”

She also thanked Crisis UK, ATASS Foundation, The BIG Lottery and Provident Financial for essential grants.


2 thoughts on “E&E | Exeter homeless charity reveals big rise in the number of rough city sleepers

  1. E&E Letters | 14 January 2016
    Homelessness: a complex story

    The reasons people end up on the streets are complex.

    A person does not just wake up one morning sleeping rough.

    Appallingly poor mental health support, care leavers,unemployment,lack of affordable or social housing, relationship breakdown,lack of support post conviction,drug and substance abuse,benefit sanctions, lack of mental health care for people leaving the services,the list goes on.

    Its easy to judge as one walks past but each person has a story to tell as to why they are sleeping rough.

    There are also millions of young homeless, who are sofa surfing,not on streets but very vulnerable.

    Its not a quick fix but decades of underinvestment in provisions that support vulnerable people have taken there toll. Its nothing to do with sending money oversea although that’s an often used mantra.

    Plenty of money in this country but untill we take hold of the causes of homelessness we will simply be mopping up rather than preventing people being in that situation in the first place.

    Laura Bowman

    Facebook comment on the story about the Exeter homelessness charity St Petrocks publishing figures showing a rise in the homeless and vulnerably housed using its services


    1. E&E Letters | 18 January 2016
      Tacking action on homelessness

      I write in response to the letter in the echo from Laura Bowman regarding homelessness. Laura’s letter is accurate and a blessing to read.

      Homelessness is a very complex issue and she is correct that the reasons why people end up sleeping rough, or sofa surfing are not straight forward or a lifestyle choice. None of us I’m sure, attended school and thought ‘When I leave school I want to be homeless, and without hope for the future’. But sadly in the UK far too many people are in this situation and that is wrong, unacceptable and sadly rising.

      The CAB have widely reported that any one of us could be one pay cheque away from being unable to meet our financial commitments, and with this financial pressure comes stress, family breakdowns, depression etc and this leads to people finding themselves in unplanned unforeseen situations.

      It is for this reason that I ensured that the drawing up of a new Homelessness Strategy was my number one priority.

      We need to prevent people from becoming homeless, whether that’s providing them with the skills to manage their finances better or working with partners to ensure that people have access to mental health services when needed (not being sat on an endless waiting list for services).

      Everyone deserves a safe place to rest their head at night. I hope that Safe Sleep will give us further opportunity to engage with and help people who for whatever reason are homeless.

      It’s time that there was a cross party consensus on how to prevent homelessness as well as how to address the rising number of homeless in the UK.

      Cllr Heather Morris
      Labour City Councillor for Cowick ward


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