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Supporting vulnerable rough sleepers across the Borough

15 November 2021

a human figure sleeping on a pavement outside a shop

Nobody has been identified as sleeping rough in West Devon this year. However, West Devon Borough Council believes that the number of people without a permanent home is likely to be higher.

Every year, councils across the UK make estimates and get out and about to take part in a snapshot count of people who are sleeping rough. The number of people in this year's snapshot is the same as last year.

The Council uses estimates as the most accurate way of arriving at a number. This is because of the large geographic area of West Devon, which means a full count would not be able to encompass all the areas involved.  Instead the Council works with partnership agencies such as the Police and Rough Sleeper Drop-In centres. The figure is based on verified sightings of people who are sleeping rough or individuals we have very strong reason to believe were rough sleeping on the specified night.

The figures on people sleeping rough in the Borough are preliminary only and will be verified later this year by The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.  

Cllr Barry Ratcliffe, West Devon Borough Council Lead Member for Housing said: "Every year we take part in this national snapshot of people who are sleeping rough to help us to plan our services more effectively. It is positive news that we have found no change this year and we still have no one sleeping rough in the Borough. However, we know that some people who are sleeping rough will never make contact with our Housing Advice Service so it would be very helpful if you let us know of anyone sleeping rough in West Devon. If you don't know their name, the place where they are usually found and a brief description would suffice. 

"We also know that there is a huge number of other people in our area who do not have a home but are not sleeping rough - for example, sofa-surfers who are relying of friends and family to get by. As a Council, we're working to increase the number of properties locally available at below market rate to ease this issue.

"The wellbeing of everyone in our community is at the heart of all our plans. We're committed to making sure everyone in West Devon has somewhere safe and comfortable to live and our team works closely with other agencies to achieve this. For example, our Housing First project takes a holistic approach to offer a full range of support. This significantly increases their chances of keeping the accommodation and making positive life choices. With the cold weather now upon us, we've also launched our Severe Weather Protocol, which will get someone out to see anyone who is sleeping rough to make sure our most vulnerable neighbours have the opportunity to promptly access shelter." 

From now until 1 March 2022, the Council offers additional support for homeless people in our area through the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol.

Anyone sleeping rough (or anyone concerned about someone sleeping rough) can contact a member of the Housing Team about finding safe and warm accommodation during the winter months. Please call 01822 813600, Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m and an outreach worker will contact you. Outside of these hours please call 0800 1694217 to speak to our Duty Officer.

The definition of a rough sleeper, for the purpose of the Government's estimate is as follows:

  • People sleeping, about to bed down (sitting on/in or standing next to their bedding) or actually bedded down in the open air (such as on the streets, in tents, doorways, parks, bus shelters or encampments)
  • People in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as stairwells, barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats, stations, or "bashes"). 

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