The Salvation Army mobilises to challenge Government’s rough sleeping target

Thousands of The Salvation Army members, officers and supporters are joining forces to warn the Government that, unless urgent action is taken, it is on course to break a manifesto pledge on rough sleeping.

The Government has promised to end rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament but since 2010 there has been a 165% increase in people on the streets.

The church and charity has called on its members, officers, employees and supporters in England* to ask their local MP to lobby Government to prioritise funding to tackle homelessness. Anyone can take part in the campaign by going to The Salvation Army website www.salvationarmy.org.uk. The campaign coincides with a recent poll which found that 68% of the public did not think the Government would deliver on its commitment to end rough sleeping.**

The Salvation Army’s Assistant Secretary for Homelessness Services, Major Hilarie Watchorn said: “Unless urgent action is taken, the Government is not going to meet its commitment to end rough sleeping.

“Rough sleeping used to be considered an inner city problem but the issue is creeping out of city centres and into suburbs and towns. No-one should be forced to sleep rough whether in a city or elsewhere but we are hoping that because it has become so visible, local MPs will be forced to acknowledge the scale of the problem and lobby Government for essential action.

“Homelessness kills – an estimated 726 people who were without a permanent place to live died in England and Wales in 2018 – the highest year on year increase (22%) since records began.***

“In their election manifesto, the Government committed to eliminate rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament – the latest this would be is 2025. The most vulnerable people in our communities need action now, not tomorrow, not next year. I urge our members, officers, employees and supporters to call on their MP so that, with our collective voice, we can ensure ending rough sleeping doesn’t fall off the list of Government priorities.”

The Salvation Army stands ready to work with the Government to put into place a roadmap to end rough sleeping and restore the life chances of those trapped in its cycle. The Salvation Army is urging the Government to:

· Publish its promised update of the Rough Sleeping Strategy, including a clear plan of how it plans to meet its ambitious target of ending rough sleeping by the end of the current Parliament.

· Consider extending and expanding its current Rough Sleeping Initiative, which is due to end in March 2020.

· Make further investment in supported housing, which offers more than just food and shelter for homeless people, but helps them deal with the complex reasons that led to their sleeping on the streets in the first place.

Major Hilarie Watchorn, The Salvation Army’s Assistant Director of Homelessness Services, said: “The detrimental impact of sleeping rough on people’s mental health means that the longer someone is living on the streets the more entrenched problems such as drug and alcohol dependency become.

“The people we help are struggling with the many issues that have led them to sleeping rough, such as domestic violence, childhood trauma, relationship breakdown, as well as mental ill health. Please help us ensure the Government sticks to its manifesto pledge and help end rough sleeping for good.”

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