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More people seeking help from hostels
SERVICES providing support and shelter to homeless people in Worcester are working to full capacity as the cold weather continues to bite.
With homelessness on the increase across the UK, Worcester is finding more people sleeping rough on the streets or seeking help from the network of centres.
There are currently no vacancies at St Paul’s Hostel, with all 46 beds occupied at their Tallow Hill site.
The night assessment centre hosted by the YMCA is regularly seeing 20-24 people using its facilities, which can house 26 people, every evening.
Donna King, the hostel’s director of services, said: “I have been working here about five years and this is the worst year and it’s not showing any signs of improving.
“We have seen more donations this year.
“We have been overwhelmed with hot drinks, cup-a-soups and biscuits which we give people each night.”
She also says there are six to eight rough sleepers in the city who simply do not seek help.
The YMCA in Henwick Road is also full, with 38 people aged 16-24 seeking accommodation via their homeless intervention service and a similar number on the waiting list for the hostel, which has 84 beds.
Angie Rich, YMCA’s housing and support manager, said: “Since working in this area I have been surprised how I have met people that have had their own businesses, families and things we have all got and take for granted, then in a short period of time it has all come crashing down.
“It’s a hidden problem. It’s not that people are asking for huge amounts of money, just some time where you could come up and allow people to think somebody genuinely cares about them.”
Maggs Day Centre in Deansway is appealing for donations of sleeping bags and extra clothes to help people keep warm. Between December 3 and Monday, January 14 the average number of breakfasts provided for rough sleepers each week was 60 and the average number of lunches was 140.
The number of people seeking help from the centre peaked at 86 in a week.
Manager Mel Kirk said: “That’s a huge increase from the year before. We anticipated the figures to rise and they are likely to rise even more.”
In 2011, an official head count revealed 17 people were sleeping rough in the city, but that number is expected to rise sharply when the next study is carried out.
Worcester City Council hosts the city’s first homelessness action day – Homeless, Not Helpless – on Saturday from 10am to 4pm.
Organisations and charities working with homeless people in the city will be on hand to share advice.
l A new Government-funded service called StreetLink has been launched to enable the public to alert local authorities about rough sleeping in their area. Incidents of people sleeping rough can be reported by calling 0300 500 0914 or going to streetlink.org.uk.