A FORMER homeless man is calling for more regular counts of rough sleepers in Worcester after an ‘unprecedented rise’ in the number of cases.

Hugo Sugg who lives in Worcester city centre has launched a campaign called ‘Somewhere in Summer’ pushing for more regular monitoring of numbers of rough sleepers in the city to provide accurate, up-to-date information about their plight, the state of their health and their access to support services.

Estimates of the number of rough sleepers are conducted once a year with last year’s survey taking place on Thursday, November 12, 2015.

But Mr Sugg believes these estimates should take place at least once every three months to reflect the constantly changing picture in the city across the year.

Various bodies were invited to take part in the rough sleepers estimate, led by Worcester City Council, including the Worcester Homeless Intervention Team, Maggs Day Centre, police, the probation service and the Citizens Advice Bureau/WHABAC (Worcester Housing and Benefits Advice Centre).

The Rough Sleeping Statistics for Autumn 2015, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, recorded that rough sleeping was up, rising in England from 2,744 cases in 2014 to 3,569 in 2015.

Estimates therefore suggest that around 825 more people were rough sleeping in 2015 than 2014 in England, a rise of 30 per cent.

In Worcester there were 27 rough sleepers identified in 2015 (up from 22 the previous year) but Mr Sugg feels that these annual estimates cannot reflect, the dynamic, changing face of homelessness in the city and should be conducted more regularly and thoroughly with more questions of asked of those on the streets and more emphasis on signposting them to support services.

Mr Sugg has also raised concerns that some rough sleepers are not included in the estimate and slip under the radar.

The 25-year-old stressed that rough sleepers were susceptible to health problems in summer as well as winter, including heat exhaustion, dehydration and sunstroke and that they were more vulnerable than people a roof over their heads because of the nature of the way they lived.

He also said he believed the homeless figures were ‘skewed’ and ‘a massive underestimate’.

Mr Sugg wants the survey to cover more ground, not just the streets of the city, and wants questions to be asked of rough sleepers such as how they became homeless and what what support they have received.

“It’s a way of getting more people into services, finding out more about homelessness and having a more accurate figure of how many people are actually rough sleeping.

"The homeless strategy for Worcester is now completely out of date. Homeless people need help all year round. In the summer homelessness/rough sleeping doesn’t seem to get mentioned by anyone. Rough sleeping figures change all the time."

As previously reported Mr Sugg was just 18 when he became homeless in Hereford following the breakdown of a relationship and made an impassioned plea last December for people to back organisations like Supported Housing for Young People Project (SHYPP) in Hereford and the YMCA, St Paul's Hostel and Maggs Day Centre, all in Worcester.

Jonathan Sutton, chief executive of St Paul’s Hostel, said: “I've read Hugo's latest homeless campaign. He has made a very good point: why are rough sleeper counts once per year and in the Autumn when the days are short and the weather is turning colder?

“I would support a summer count because I am told Maggs Day Centre has seen unprecedented rises of people in crisis. St Paul's would help the city council and I guess Maggs, faith groups and soup kitchens would also lend a hand to undertake a meticulous count.”

No-one at Maggs Day Centre was available for comment.

A spokesman for Worcester City Council said: “A national count of rough sleepers is carried out every year, in line with Government requirements and to robust standards of data-gathering.

“Throughout the year we work with partner agencies to support people who sleep rough on Worcester's streets.

"If any of those partner agencies were keen to hold counts at other times of the year we would be happy to support them in whatever way we can.”