Number of rough sleepers rises in Chesterfield

Stock picture.
Stock picture.

There were 18 people sleeping rough in Chesterfield in autumn 2018, according to latest official estimates.

The figure was 12 in autumn 2017 and six in autumn 2010 - meaning rough sleeping has increased by 50 per cent in the area in eight years.

The statistics have been released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and only give a snapshot of the situation as council workers either counted or estimated the number of rough sleepers on just one night.

Night shelter is making a difference

Rough sleepers in Chesterfield can currently access shelter for the night in a project being run by Derby City Mission.

As part of the scheme, a different church is opening its doors each night of the week to offer people security, a hot meal and a warm bed.

There are only a few rules: everyone must be treated with respect, no alcohol, drugs or weapons are allowed, smoking is only permitted in certain areas and once people are booked in, it's not possible to leave and come back.

The important project launched on December 1 and will run until March 31.

Phil Morton, head of relief of poverty at Derby City Mission, said: "Our vision for this project isn't for it to be a solution to homelessness, but to be part of the process of getting people out of homelessness - to be a warm, dry and welcoming place, meeting the basic needs of people, during some of the worst months of weather.

"We are in partnership with Pathways of Chesterfield, the local authorities and housing providers find a solution for these individuals.

"We have already seen some of the people who have stayed move into accommodation which is amazing.

"This project wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of the people of Chesterfield with their time, their money and their donations."

Chesterfield Borough Council, Bolsover District Council and North East Derbyshire District Council are using money from the Government to fund the shelter.

Councillor Tricia Gilby, leader of the borough council, said: "It's easier than you think to end up without a roof over your head - it can be as simple as missing a few rent or mortgage payments.

"At this time of year when the weather is freezing, it is even more serious with people at risk of hypothermia and other cold-related conditions, which is why we are contributing funding for the night shelter to run in the borough until the end of March."

Coun Gilby added: "We couldn't do this without the local church groups and their volunteers - I'd like to thank them for all of their efforts."

She previously told the Derbyshire Times there was 'no reason' for people to be sleeping rough on the streets of Chesterfield when shelter is available.

READ MORE: Council and police comment about situation on New Beetwell Street

For more information about the project and to find out which church is open on a particular night, people should visit Pathways at 120 Saltergate or call 01246 498204. Alternatively, the council's homeless prevention team can be contacted on 01246 345825. If anybody requires assistance outside of normal office hours, call 01629 533190.

Government bids to end rough sleeping

The Government last year announced it will spend £100million to eliminate rough sleeping by 2027.

Sian Jones, manager of Saltergate-based Pathways, welcomed the news.

She said: "The strategy appears to share the ethos of Pathways in that 'every person should have a place that they can call home'.

"It is a very positive move to see the focus on all aspects of homelessness, from prevention through to recovery."

READ MORE: Chesterfield Pathways boss welcomes Government £100million plan to end rough sleeping