News : Hotline for Public to Help Leeds Homeless
Nov 13, 2013 -- Members of the public are being asked to help keep rough sleepers off the streets by dialling a new homelessness hotline for support.
A special street outreach phone number has been set up so anyone in Leeds can call up to alert homelessness organisations of rough sleepers as part of the ‘No Second Night Out’ (NSNO) campaign, which was officially launched yesterday.
The Leeds City Council-funded campaign allows residents to help tackle the problem, as their calls can lead to outreach workers from the CRI charity bringing rough sleepers to St George’s Crypt, in Great George Street, to access its ‘Leeds Hub’. Whilst there, homeless people can stay in 12 emergency beds, have health checks and get support with the aim of finding them suitable housing within 72 hours.
Chris Fields, chief executive officer at St George’s Crypt, said: "It’s a joy to offer hospitality to anybody that turns up and that’s what we were originally set up to do 80 years ago. It’s for the most vulnerable and the most needy in Leeds, it’s an essential service."
In the 16 months that the scheme has been running, the Leeds Hub has catered to a total of 639 different people.
NSNO is a national Government campaign and, launching in Leeds for the first time, it sees the council’s housing support services and welfare charities including St George’s Crypt and CRI join forces.
Coun John Hardy, the council’s lead member for homelessness, said: "With No Second Night Out there is no reason why they should sleep out, we can accommodate them all despite all the cuts we face as a council."
St George’s Crypt, set up in 1930, offers free help to the homeless, the vulnerable and those suffering with addiction.
Former rough sleeper Daniel Barber, 32, was forced on to the streets after the breakdown of a relationship, ill-health and the loss of a friend left him suffering with depression. With help from the Leeds Hub, Mr Barber is now back working as a roofer and even volunteers at the Crypt. He said: "All we ask for is that the people that need the help can access it and, with this new service, they can."
To report sightings of rough sleepers, call 0300 5000914. If the rough sleeper requires urgent medical assistance, 999 should be called.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Wednesday, November 13, 2013