Telford rough sleepers 'better served than anywhere else'
Rough sleepers have guaranteed beds thanks to local charities and are “probably better served in Telford and Wrekin than anywhere else”, a senior police officer says.
But Safer Neighbourhood Inspector Gary Wade told a public meeting that some continue to sleep on the streets through choice and reject offers of help from organisations like KiP and Maninplace, which offer 130 accommodation spaces.
Wellington mayor Anthony Lowe said he was concerned about the level of rough sleeping in the town, and West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion agreed it affected the quality of life for everyone.
They were speaking at the meeting held at the Parish Rooms in Newport.
Councillor Lowe, who chose accommodation provider Maninplace as one of his mayoral charities upon taking office, said: “Wellington feels less safe than Newport, especially at the weekends.
“What can we do to sort out rough sleeping?”
Wellington is one of 28 finalists in the Great British High Street Rising Star Award, will get a visit from the competition judges on September 5.
Councillor Lowe admitted the level of rough sleeping and other problems like drug use sometimes made him wonder “how on earth did we get to the final?”.
Mr Campion said: “Rough sleeping and begging are those crimes that do damage to quality of life, but sometimes there are vulnerabilities and crises around those individuals.”
Inspector Wade said: “Unfortunately, rough sleepers aren’t all there through circumstances.
“I know of two today who are sleeping out from choice.
“They have had countless offers from KiP and Maninplace and have refused.
“They are engaged with nightly because that is the right thing to do.”
“I step outside the bounds of what I should do and they have had all their property removed.
“It’s unsightly and it’s a health and safety issue. There could be needles in there and I don’t know who is going to touch it.
“KiP and Maninplace offer 130 beds in Telford every night, and they always have 12 as an overflow, so you are probably better served in Telford and Wrekin than anywhere else.”
KiP@Maninplace is a service offering help, support and access to emergency accommodation. More information can be found at maninplace.org.uk/homeless