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'10 people' sleeping rough in Bury
The problem of rough sleeping is not improving, according to a Bury charity, after figures revealed that about 10 people slept on the streets of the town last autumn.
The figures, supplied by Bury Council to the Government, estimated there were 10 people on the streets between October 1 and November 30 last year.
Local councils can decide whether to conduct a physical count of people sleeping rough, or provide an estimate if they don’t feel a count is warranted.
The estimate shows the number of people thought to be sleeping rough in Bury on any one night in a chosen week during that timeframe.
Bury’s estimate was one of the highest in Greater Manchester, with Bolton Council estimating one, Rochdale Council estimating six, while Wigan Council was the only authority with a higher estimate, of 13.
In 2012, between October 1 and November 30, Bury Council conducted a count, and found three people were sleeping rough in the borough.
This compares to previous estimates made by Bury Council in 2011, that there were nine people sleeping rough, and an estimate that three people were sleeping rough in 2010, both October 1 to November 30.
In England, statistics showed 2,414 people slept rough between October 1 and November 30 last year, an increase of 105 people from the same period in 2012.
The Government’s definition of rough sleepers does not include people in hostels or shelters, people on campsites, travellers or squatters.
Graham Evans, director of The Housing Link charity, which provides temporary accommodation to people who are homeless or are threatened with homelessness, said he was not surprised at the figures.
He said: “It is certainly not getting any better in Bury. We are still full all of the time and have a waiting list of people who are seeking temporary accommodation.
“I am not surprised the figure has gone up, but I was a little surprised at the 10 figure, but on any given day it is a possibility.”
The organisation was set up in 1983, and offers 56 bed places across properties in Bury and Radcliffe, including a 16-bed, 24-hour hostel at Castlecroft House in the centre of Bury.
Mr Evans said they deal with a lot of people who are not officially homeless but use “sofa-surfing”, sleeping on sofas for a few nights until they have to find somewhere else to stay.
He added: “The people who we deal with are normally of no fixed abode, rather than being roofless, but we hear of a number of people who stay on a sofa for three days and then have to find somewhere else.”
Cllr Rishi Shori, Bury Council’s cabinet member for housing, said it was difficult to create an accurate account of rough sleeping in the borough. He said: “This is not a major problem in Bury. That said, homeless prevention is something we take very seriously. Rough sleeping is very difficult to identify, there is a culture in this country of sofa-surfing, and you can never have an accurate picture.
“Perhaps Bury’s figure is relatively high because we have erred on the side of caution, but we are working very hard to rectify it.”
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