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A sad picture of 21st century Britain on the streets of our city

Council Leader Peter Box during a visit to Riverside Housing.
Picture shows Darren Stone, one of the service users, with council leader Peter Box in the foreground.
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Council Leader Peter Box during a visit to Riverside Housing. Picture shows Darren Stone, one of the service users, with council leader Peter Box in the foreground. w315b307

The number of people sleeping rough in Wakefield is up 70 per cent - but the true scale of rising homelessness could be far higher.

Homeless organisations in the city are face a rising need for their services and have appealed to the council to protect their funding after the authority was forced to make cuts of £46m over two years.

Council leader Peter Box visited Marsh Way House, which is run by social housing provider Riverside, and met Darren Stone, who moved into the hostel after eviction and rising debts.

Mr Stone said: “If it wasn’t for the help I get from the staff here I would have been homeless.”

Homeless organisations say 80 per cent of people stay in accommodation after being helped by their services.

But funding is in doubt because of spending cuts by the government - and cuts to benefits set to come into force in April are expected to make the problem worse.

Coun Box said it was a sad reflection of 21st century Britain that people were homeless and relying on soup kitchens.

He said: “We will do all we can within our resources to help people who don’t have a roof over their heads.”

Foundation, based at Union Square, works with vulnerable homeless people, including offenders. Support from the organisation helped Benn Thickett, 20, move into a home.

Mr Thickett said: “I would be on the streets, homeless. Or back in jail.”

Foundation, which also passes on food parcels for its service users, has seen its funding reduce by 40 per cent.

But demand for its services is expected to rise.

Project manager Anne Hadfield said: “Times have been tough before but now it just seems to be getting worse.”

Officially, there were 17 rough sleepers in Wakefield at the last count.

But Ernest Hibbert, who runs the city’s Community Awareness Programme, (CAP)said it did not include people sleeping on friends’ sofas or in temporary accommodation.

He said: “We have had 234 new clients through the door and 112 of them are classed as no fixed abode.”

 

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