A campaign has been launched to end the ‘scourge’ of homelessness on the English Riviera. With dozens of people sleeping on the streets of Torbay and countless others ‘sofa surfing’ and vulnerable in what has been described as a ‘spike’ in numbers, campaigners say: ‘If we don’t act now, this will only get worse.’
Latest figures suggest 30 people are sleeping on the streets, though a far greater number will be ‘sofa surfing’ and highly vulnerable. Now Torbay Council, working with Torbay police, Shekinah and Westward Housing have met representatives of volunteer like Friends of Factory Row and the Torbay Street Pastors to champion a new campaign, End Street Homelessness, that has had huge success in towns and cities in other parts of the world.
Torbay councillor Mark King said the people of Torbay had a collective responsibility to tackle street homelessness and help rough sleepers, adding: ‘This initiative is about us all pulling together to make a difference.’
Nick Pannell, chairman of Friends of Factory Row which supports the work of the Leonards Stocks Centre, said: ‘This is a call to action for all those who want to end this social scourge. If we don’t act it will only get worse, ruining lives and blighting the resort. People need to get involved and not just ‘walk by on the other side’. Make contact and volunteer.’
John Hamblin of Shekinah said his organisation had been supporting rough sleepers for 25 years. ‘We are saddened and annoyed to see the continued rise in rough sleeper numbers,’ he said.
‘While much good work has been achieved over the years, we have always felt that we are often managing the problem as opposed to trying to end it. We believe that this campaign gives us and others the chance to look at the problem differently and commit to end rough sleeping on the streets of Torbay.’
Torbay End Street Homelessness is looking for volunteers to help with the campaign, from manning the bases from which the volunteers will go out in the evening and early morning to visiting people in their new homes. Volunteers will be trained and supported and have travelling expenses reimbursed if required.
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