Southampton’s homelessness problem: do they get enough support?

by Annabel Tinson (@TinsonAnnabel)

AT the beginning of 2017, a four hundred-thousand-pound injection of money was proposed as a way to tackle the homelessness issue in Southampton. But has it made a difference?

The homeless among Southampton's Christmas Market (above)
The homeless among Southampton’s Christmas Market (above)

Councillor Warwick Payne told the Daily Echo at the beginning of 2017 when the money was given to the council that: “We especially want to intervene when people are at risk of becoming homeless or have just arrived on the street, as this is perhaps the best chance we have of getting people to accept help.”

But has it really helped? Speaking to those living in Southampton; the general opinion is that it seems to have got worse.

Amy Willson, 19, a student living in Bedford place along with many other Solent University students, believes that it has got worse: “I think the amount of homeless people on the streets has definitely increased. In Bedford Place by Sainsbury’s I see more and more homeless people begging every day.”

Sainsbury's, Bedford Place (above)
Sainsbury’s local, Bedford Place (above)

Bedford place is also the home of 10 Southampton Street, a hostel run by the St. James Society. Wayne Fresle, a worker at the hostel, said that: “The difference between this hostel and the others is that we take on the toughest cases of homelessness. Our clients usually have drug, alcohol and mental health issues. Or they have all three.”

10 Southampton street, the society of St James hostel (above)
10 Southampton Street is a 24 hour, seven day per week service, commissioned by Southampton City Council as part of its homelessness provision, and provides a temporary home for 26 adults from many different backgrounds (as stated on St. James Society website).

10 Southampton Street’s aims are to help the homeless in the long term. Instead of just supplying a shelter for the night, as Winchester does, a lot of the hostels in Southampton aim to get their clients back on their feet and eventually into their own rented accommodation.

Fresle said that in his opinion: “There is so much help in Southampton by the way of the council and charities that there is little need for anyone to be sleeping in doorways.”

He went on to explain that: “some of the reasons they could be sleeping rough is down to suffering from paranoia- some have mental health issues which mean they are not happy to stay in a hostel with others and would rather be on their own. Another reason could be pets- hostels don’t allow dogs, so for some keeping their pet is more important. And some are simply not ready for support.”