Doncaster Voices: How best can we address town's homeless problem?
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MARGARET HERBERT, DONCASTER RESIDENT
This is a very sad and serious situation and I wonder why in the last 2 years this problem has become so bad. In the old days they could have gone to the Workhouse but none of us want to see that happen again. I wonder what happened to the Salvation Army who used to help these people, would they be willing to help again? There are many empty buildings in and around the town, The Waterdale Centre being one example, empty shops, and office blocks .Could the Salvation Army take some of these over, say on a short cheap Lease and install Showers and Toilets with kitchen facilities and beds, until more permanent accommodation could be found. It would be great to see a team of good citizens, and there are a lot of caring people in Doncaster, who could form an organisation to come forward with collecting boxes to help the Army raise the funding that would be needed for this.
FRANK ARROWSMITH, EDLINGTON MAYOR
Homelessness is one of the many social issues governments and institutions fail to understand the root causes of so let’s start with prevention rather than cure .Agencies at present direct their budgets and energy towards emergency action resulting in a piecemeal strategy. A home should be a basic human right and never a gift of government we need to understand that we are never far away from the slippery slope of losing our home loss of job, breakdown in a relationship and numerous other pitfalls. Homelessness is fundamentally defined by lack of housing governments have failed to address this problem for generations we need urgent action to start a social housing revolution. We also need to take a long hard look at some of the other problems around homelessness, abject poverty, families in crisis, lack of education and direction. A corner stone of a modern society safe affordable housing and employment.
COUN GLYN JONES, DEPUTY MAYOR AND CABINET MEMBER FOR HOUSING & EQUALITY
In recent years as the Government’s austerity cuts have started to bite, there has been a rise in the number of people who find themselves homeless across the country. This means the issue we face in Doncaster is similar to most towns and cities. “In Doncaster we are committed to helping and supporting those who do find themselves homeless. However, there is no quick fix as many of the people in this situation do live very complex lives. “With our Complex Lives Alliance we have successfully helped a number of people break the cycle of homelessness and get the help and support they need. Together with our partners this support will continue.
The Council works closely with St Leger Homes and also funds homelessness services that provide emergency and longer term support. In addition there are a range of local charities and groups that work tirelessly to support those who may find themselves in this situation.
If anyone is struggling and thinks they may become homeless, please come to our Civic Office or contact us and we will offer immediate support and advice. If the office is closed people can call 01302 736000.
BILL MORRISON, EAST DONCASTER DEVELOPMENT TRUSTEES CHAIR
The homeless is on the increase so solutions must be found. One possibility? Encourage those with spare bedrooms to provide accommodation, of course a level of vetting would be required on both sides. What happened to the caravan stock the DMBC had during the floods? Can we not bring them back and provide shelter, surely a joint initiative with the homeless charities is not impossible. And why don’t we commandeer vacant properties that have sat empty for months on end. Private landlords or any landlord should not be permitted to sit on empty houses when we have a housing crisis.
Such ideas might not sit well with some but it’s time to face facts and reality and stop talking and start doing. This situation is not going to resolve itself, it requires determination and a mindset to ignore those who would object if you put the homeless on the moon.
* If you would like your voice heard, get in touch, email email@example.com with 150 words, name and title and a photograph of yourself. Next week subject is “How can we ensure NHS remains free to Doncaster people?”
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