Rough sleeper charity tells Leeds supporters that need for services is growing

The number of people who are homeless and rough sleeping will spiral if nothing changes, a charity told its supporters in Leeds this week.

Simon on the Streets general manager Gordon Laing gave the warning as he addressed people taking part in its #sleepwithsimon sleep out in the city.

“Homelessness hasn’t got any better,” he said. “Charities such as ourselves, our usefulness and the need for us is only going to get more important.”

The government will soon release its latest national statistics on homelessness, but Mr Laing said charities working in the field expected them to be lower than their own figures.

“We go off the different charities that work with these people,” he said. “We believe the Crisis stats are far more accurate than those put out by the government.”

Crisis believes there are currently 250,000 homeless people across the UK, from rough sleepers and sofa surfers to families living in shelters and women’s refuges.

As a service we support people unconditionally and sometimes we will support people for years.

Gordon Laing, general manager at Simon on the Streets

It estimated that there were 4,000 people regularly sleeping rough nationally in 2016.

“We believe it can be combatted,” Mr Laing said. “We can help fight it but really it needs action at governmental level. It’s not just about building houses – they need a lot of help.

“Money has to be invested properly in mental health and rehabilitation services.

“As a service we support people unconditionally and sometimes we will support people for years.

“We need your support. We don’t just need it tonight, we need it throughout the year.”

Click here to find out more about the charity’s work and how you can support it.

March 2017:  Joe Taylor and Dreda Blow preview Northern Ballets new production of Casanova, at a launch event to Leeds business leaders to back the Leeds 2023 City of Culture Bid.  Picture: Tony Johnson.

Can Leeds salvage a legacy from the doomed 2023 European Capital of Culture bid?