WEEKEND WEB: Help is there for those out on the street

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Coun Christine Lawton writes this week’s weekly South Holland Distict Council column, Cabinet Call.

I thought for this column (so near to Christmas) I would write about something which concerns us all as the cold weather kicks in and end on a lighter note to cheer us up.

In January 2017, it was estimated there were 4,134 people rough sleeping on any one night in the UK.

There is a lot of churn, some people getting helped off the streets, others sofa-surfing with friends, but there is always a core number of rough sleepers who need to be identified and offered help.

In the recent Budget, there was extra money for a Homeless Reduction Taskforce, which is expected to halve rough sleeping by 2022.

The drivers of street sleeping are more than a lack of housing or money, and include chronic ill health, addiction, mental health and domestic violence.

In South Holland, as elsewhere, we have all seen evidence of this increase, though thankfully it is less here than in many other districts.

I can only reiterate previous requests for concerned members of the public to call our Outreach Team to let them know when and where they see someone they think is sleeping on the streets.

P3 (our Street Outreach team) carries out regular searches and always investigates known rough sleeper hotspots. The telephone number to call is 0808 281 0280 and you can be reassured that the information will be followed up with practical help and advice.

As an authority, we are aware that some apparently homeless individuals are not in reality homeless, but only until they contact our Housing Team can we offer support.

On a lighter note, you will know that the county council’s gritting teams are out and about in this cold weather.

The machines and their drivers were recently “blessed” by local clergy, as a way of showing our concern and appreciation for the vital work they do to keep us safe.

A council in the north of England recently ran a competition to name their gritters and snow ploughs and the results made me laugh out loud!

Some of the entrants were Gritney Spears, Usain Salt and Spready Mercury. The eventual winners were Gritsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Anti-Slip Machiney and David Plowie. Well done to Doncaster Council. The spirit of Boaty McBoatface lives on!

To end, can I wish all our residents a Very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful and Prosperous New Year.