A kindhearted six-year-old boy, who was so upset when he saw a homeless man “looking sad” that he used his pocket money to buy tea and a cake, has highlighted a growing problem on the streets of Spalding.
The mother contacted the Free Press and said: “Is there any way he can be helped that you know of? It’s just hard to believe in a time when we send millions/billions of pounds abroad that we can’t even help people on our doorstep.”
Framework, the Lincolnshire and Rutland rough sleeper outreach service, have confirmed they are currently helping three people in Spalding who have been sleeping rough on the streets.
James Marriott, service manager for Framework’s Street Outreach Team (SOT), says it is something residents can expect to see more of.
He said that since the Government introduced its austerity programme in 2010, nationally there has been a 37 per cent rise in the number of homeless people.
Lincolnshire is bucking the trend with a 14 per cent drop in the number of homeless, but Mr Marriott said it was not a reason to be complacent.
He said: “The reason we are being successful is because of the multi-agency work we are doing with partners across the county, which means a person on the streets in Spalding could be found accommodation in another town
“We are also working to address the root cause of homelessness. In spite of people thinking it’s drink and drugs, the main cause is relationship break-up, often as a result of losing a job.”
Paul Emeny (39) has been sleeping rough for nearly a month. On Friday he was in talks with South Holland District Council to find some way of getting accommodation at the weekend so he could shower and make himself “presentable” to start a new job yesterday (Monday).
He said: “I’ve been working with Framework and was found temporary accommodation in Skegness. But I wanted to return to Spalding in the hope of finding work. I got a flat but the landlord kicked me out when I got behind with the rent and he found out I didn’t have a job.
“Sleeping rough isn’t something I choose to do. The nights are cold and I worry about being attacked while I’m sleeping. I spent my Jobseekers’ Allowance on two nights in a hotel to get cleaned up but I can’t go on like this. I’m normally a clean person and I’m hoping to find a way of making myself presentable to start a new job.
“Then I can look at getting somewhere to live.”
A spokesman for South Holland District Council said: “There is currently a very small number of verified rough sleeper cases known to South Holland District Council and being dealt with.
“Fortunately, rough sleeping is rare in the district – there was one verified case in 2012 and two in 2013.”
Anyone wanting to report a rough sleeper can text SOT on 80800 (normal text message cost), or call 0800 0665356. It is also the number for anyone sleeping rough or fearing they might have to.
Agape Care in Spalding would also welcome donations of clothes and sleeping bags at the Lighthouse Church in Haverfield Road every day from 9am to noon.