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Homelessness figures criticised by charities for not telling full story

PUBLISHED: 17:32 12 March 2015 | UPDATED: 17:32 12 March 2015

John Clifton, church leader at the Salvation Army

John Clifton, church leader at the Salvation Army

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New homelessness figures which reveal there are fewer than 20 people sleeping rough in Redbridge have been criticised for not showing the full picture.

Sonia Lynch, manager of the Welcome Centre. Picture: Healthy Living ProjectsSonia Lynch, manager of the Welcome Centre. Picture: Healthy Living Projects

Charity leaders told the Recorder the problem goes far deeper than the government statistics, which state an estimated 19 people sleep rough in the borough on any one night.

The figures were collected in October and November 2014.

The Welcome Centre in St Mary’s Road, Ilford, helps people with nowhere to go.

Manager, Sonia Lynch, said: “Homelessness in Redbridge is much more prevalent than figures would suggest.

Cllr Muhammed Javed, cabinet member for housingCllr Muhammed Javed, cabinet member for housing

“The issue depends greatly on your definition.

“Are we limiting the term to those who are rough sleepers? Or do we include those living in B&Bs or surviving on friends’ sofas?”

The statistics show that across London, 742 people were reported by councils in the autumn as sleeping rough on any one night.

This is an increase of 37 per cent from the 2013 figure of 543.

Ms Lynch said the Welcome Centre has registered 13 new clients since January.

Last year 113 were registered, a “significant rise” from 77 the previous year.

John Clifton, church leader at the Ilford Salvation Army, in Clements Road, said: “Our experience says the reality is worse than the figure indicates.

“It is based on a very strict definition of what can be incorporated into the official count.”

The charity’s winter night shelter, which closed on Friday, welcomed 54 guests from December – all referred from the Welcome Centre.

Mr Clifton said: “A large proportion of our guests are from ethnic minority communities.

“A combination of more genuinely affordable housing and specialist advice services for these communities will help address the situation.”

Last month, the Recorder reported that Ramfel would no longer receive a monthly payment of £1,250 from the council.

Cllr Muhammed Javed, Redbridge Council’s cabinet member for housing, said there is a need to look beyond the statistics on homeless people.

“What we can do is find out what their circumstances are, which is why an outreach homeless officer goes around.

“Some people sleeping rough have health issues and others are working, but do not earn enough to afford accommodation.

“There is huge demand and we need more housing to be built not just by the council, but also by the private sector.

“The more people who are coming into Redbridge, the more homeless people there will be.”


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