10 January 2016
Exeter homeless charity reveals big rise in the number of rough city sleepers
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.