A police officer from Stoke-on-Trent is running a week-long project to provide housing and other support for rough sleepers in the city.
The campaign, which started yesterday, is providing support for people living on the streets running up to Christmas – their toughest time of the year.
Every morning, PC James Howard and a team of PCSOs engage with the homeless and direct them to Lichfield Street in Hanley where support organisations are there to offer help and a hot drink.
PC Howard said: “I drive around the city centre doing sweeps on the streets to encourage the rough sleepers to move away from the shop entrances as we do get complaints from business owners.
“But instead of just moving them on, I’m getting them a lift here where they have all the support available to them.”
A range of organisations has united to back the initiative, such as the YMCA, Addaction, Stoke-on-Trent City Council Housing and the Salvation Army.
Councillor Randy Conteh, Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “We are committed to doing all we can, working with a range of partners, to ensure that people who are homeless are able to access the right support that is tailored to their needs.”
PC Howard added: “Because of the complexity of some of these individual’s problems, it can be quite hard to get them the right services when they need them.
“This project is enabling us to have all of these services in one place, so we can do that in a faster and more effective way.”
The project is also building a stronger relationship between the police and the homeless community.
“A lot of the rough sleepers claim they are embarrassed and uncomfortable approaching the police, so it’s great to break down the barriers because we are here to help them,” added PC Howard.
The project has already been a success.
A member of the public advised PC Howard of a rough sleeper in need, and within two hours, they were able to find them somewhere to live.
PC Howard and his team will be on Lichfield Street until Friday December 14.
If you are concerned about any vulnerable rough sleepers, contact PC Howard and his team.