• Another homeless person dies in Sidmouth, as homeless seminar takes place in Honiton

    6th November 2015 | News | Claire
  • It is thought that much homelessness is hidden, with maybe hundreds of people across East Devon who don’t have a home to call their own. Many of those who are homeless aren’t necessarily sleeping on the streets, but are in temporary accommodation and living on friends sofas.

    The event was organised by the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and Neil Parish MP came along to give a speech about how important it was to support homeless people.
    There were a number of questions for him, including from me.

    In response to the withdrawal of housing benefits for under 21s, Mr Parish pledged to press for this to be made fairer.

    He said he was pleased to speak against cuts to working tax credits in parliament last week (I said this was welcome but hoped that he would also vote against them next time around, after voting in favour of them previously)!

    I said I was very concerned about the welfare reform act and how it will start to have a big impact in the next year or two.

    I made some points on housing and planning before asking about the possibility of using Ladram Bay and Sandy Bay caravan parks to temporarily house homeless people – especially in the winter.

    An EDDC officer answered that they had been used in the past but they are not now required as people who need accommodation are being provided with it.

    I replied that things were going to get worse soon and perhaps the caravans could be used then. But apparently this breaches planning rules which state that if holiday accommodation is used all year round then it is no longer holiday accommodation.

    Over lunch I met two fantastically inspirational women who are passionate about helping homeless people and have set up Gateway Homelessness Action Group in Sidmouth.

    Lesley Crawford (background with the Audit Commission and housing) and Ann Worthington (previously a social worker) established the charity after the very sad passing of a homeless man in Sidmouth, in February – Tommy Duffy.

    Gateway assists homeless and vulnerable people by helping them to:

    – understand the housing options available to them
    – receive support and advocacy to re-engage with society
    – access to practical help and support to keep safe and warm

    Lesley and Ann work closely with Sid Valley Foodbank, police community support officers, the Street Homeless Team and EDDC.

    They will I am sure, be devastated at the death of another homeless person in Sidmouth, inside a year (see link below).

    I wish them all the luck in the world with their initiative. The government is making things so much harder for people at the margins of society – and for those who want to help them.

    If anyone spots someone sleeping rough in Sidmouth they can call the Gateway Project on the following numbers:

    Ann : 07980 023202

    Lesley : 07470 004877

    and/or Devon Street Homeless Team on: 0800 1513441 FREE FREE SHOT line open 24 hours – outreach workers Monday to Friday.