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Havering homeless charity begins talks with council on how best to help destitute

PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 January 2016

Shoppers pass by a homeless man in a city centre. Picture Anna Gowthorpe/PA Archive/PA Images

Shoppers pass by a homeless man in a city centre. Picture Anna Gowthorpe/PA Archive/PA Images

PA Archive/PA Images

Talks have begun between a homeless charity and the council about the best way homeless people housing services have no duty of care towards can be helped.

Ivana Bartoletti and Sam Gould visited Hope4Havering and  praised the charity's work. Picture Sam GouldIvana Bartoletti and Sam Gould visited Hope4Havering and praised the charity's work. Picture Sam Gould

Negotiations begin at a time when data, provided by national charity Homeless Link, show rough sleeping in Havering has increased by 300 per cent from 2013-14.

To meet the demand for emergency accommodation, homeless charity Hope 4 Havering (H4H) in Ockendon Road, Upminster, hope its resubmission of plans for a second permanent night shelter will be successful.

H4H’s night shelter manger, Emma Simmonds said: “We have asked the council, as part of our talks, for a letter of support for when we put our planning application in.”

The charity has identified an empty office block in North Street, Romford for the second shelter. It hopes the site will also feature a low cost price shop so residents can buy things needed cheaply.

According to Emma, the council instigating talks marks a change in tone after the charity’s first proposal was rejected after it deemed the plans unnecessary.

In August 2014, Sue Witherspoon, then head of housing said there was no evidence of rough sleeping in Romford.

Speaking about issues facing people today, Cllr Damien White, deputy council leader and cabinet member for housing said there has always been people made homeless in the borough for different reasons.

Mr White confirmed that the council was “working with the voluntary sector to establish a joined up approach” in tackling the crisis.

“For those people, we are trying to ensure they are offered the best type of advice and guidance,” he said.

“The council have a legal duty to provide housing advice and its about making sure that housing advice is open to everyone.”

He added those the council have a duty to house would be placed in temporary accommodation.

Ivana Bartoletti, Greater London Assembly candidate for Havering and Redbridge, who recently visited the shelter said: “I think it is heart-breaking to see an increasing number of people forced to sleep rough, go hungry and be pushed further away from getting a job.

“I urge the Council to support the request for a permanent shelter.”

A spokeswoman for the council added talks with the charity were ongoing.

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