A 28-year-old Latvian man has been flown home just 24 hours after being found in Spalding sleeping rough out in the cold and rain.
The man was hidden in bushes alongside the Castle Sports Complex playing field before sunrise on Tuesday morning, sleeping on a pallet and covered by just a blanket and piece of plastic.
Jonny Goldsmith, team leader for the Framework charity Street Outreach Team, had been joined by representatives from South Holland District Council and your Spalding Guardian reporter after starting his day at 4am in Boston.
Castle Sports Complex is a notorious hotspot for the town’s homeless and this was our first stop in a tour of occupied locations that had been referred to Framework.
We waited while Mr Goldsmith spoke to the man and assessed the situation. When he came out from the bushes he said: “This is his first night sleeping rough but we can help him and I’ve arranged to meet him at 9am to discuss it.”
Yesterday, the charity paid for the flight back to Latvia. The man spent a warmer night in a B&B, funded by South Holland District Council.
Framework’s outreach team works with a host of agencies to get rough sleepers into accommodation, through the Nomad Trust or permanent housing via the charity’s partners South Holland District Council (SHDC).
Since April 2014 last year, SHDC has taken around 80 homeless applications. Not all will have been sleeping rough – some could have been sofa surfing or staying with relatives or friends.
The council and its partners prevented around 700 instances of homelessness over the same period through advice and arranging such things as arranging access to financial support.
Jonny visits Spalding and other parts of the district about twice a week. He said: “Over the years we have built up through intelligence hotspots where people tend to congregate.
“If we get reports of a new location of a rough sleeper, we add it to the route the next time.
“This is the most important part of the day so we can differentiate between street activity and actual rough sleepers.
“Our aim is to work with somebody for as short a time as possible and get them into accommodation.”
The Latvian man we found in Castle Sports Complex was flown home from Luton Airport.
Jason Marriott, Framework service manager, said: “He came to Spalding to live with his brother, but he had returned to Latvia.
“Work was intermittent so he was unable to pay rent and ended up on the street.
“We have spoken to his brother and he is happy for him to stay with him.
“People might ask why we have spent money sending him back to Latvia, but the cost is very small compared to possible long-term costs such as accessing healthcare and housing.”
Coun Christine Lawton, portfolio officer for housing, was one of the team from South Holland District Council who joined Jonny early on Tuesday.
She said: “I think it’s important when you are a councillor to get out there to see what is happening on the ground.
“No-one in South Holland needs to be homeless. There are always options.”
If you find someone sleeping rough call Framework on 0800 066 5356 or text SOT to 80800.