A HOMELESS charity boss wants to shatter the myths surrounding homelessness.

Jonathan Sutton, the chief executive of St Paul’s Hostel, has launched a Christmas campaign was to encourage Worcester residents to see past the stereotypes, and think more deeply about social and health inequalities that lead to homelessness.

Mr Sutton: “We want the public to think differently, we want to change minds.

“There are a lot of urban myths out there. We cannot just soak up the narrative ‘they are homeless because it is their own fault.’

“Of the choices the person has to make, there aren’t any good ones. Leave home because you have an abusive father, or stay and be abused. That is a difficult decision. That is what life is like for some people. There is a reason, they have no chance in life. There has been a lot of success this year, with people who have reconnected and moving onto a pathway to becoming an integrated, contributing citizen, which is often not what people think St Paul’s is about.”

Mr Sutton said the campaign had partly came about after the nation’s focus on rough sleeping in the pandemic.

“That was a good thing,” he said.

“There is a danger of just focusing on rough sleeping of course. It is on the list of misconceptions - rough sleeping isn’t homelessness, people think it is - it is just the tip of the iceberg. Loads of people are below the water line. There is hidden homelessness, where people stay in unsuitable places.

“We forget there is structural determinants that put them there in the first place, like the lack of affordable housing.

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“Homelessness can be solved. As we saw from the government’s campaign in the spring and summer, where there is a political will there is always a way. But of course getting rough sleepers off the streets doesn’t solve the problem. They have got to be helped to recover. You need to help with why they drink, or take drugs, or gamble.

“And that is often the harder part. The approach we have taken in the last six years has been a trauma informed approach, which is where you basically understand the behaviours are a communication method. You don’t punish people all the time because that is not helping them.”

To support the Tallow Hill hostel, including to make a donation, visit stpaulshostel.co.uk.