Homelessness 'navigators' set to hit Doncaster's streets to help rough sleepers

Doncaster Tent City was set up to highlight the plight of rough sleepers
Doncaster Tent City was set up to highlight the plight of rough sleepers

A team of rough sleeping 'navigators' is set to hit Doncaster's streets to help the town's growing homeless population.

Doncaster Council teamed up with Sheffield, Barnsley and Rotherham to secure £400,000 from the Government over two years to address rough sleeping in South Yorkshire.

The grant will fund three 'navigators' and a coordinator to help those already on the street or at risk of ending up there to access emergency accommodation and other support.

The new service is being set up as council officers warn of a 'significant increase' in homelessness in Doncaster, mirroring a national rise.

A report due to go before councillors tomorrow (Thursday, March 23) sets out the challenges the team will face, including a growth in the number of homeless people who are battling drug and alcohol dependency or have a 'deep aversion to authority'.

The Homelessness Review, carried out by councillors on the regeneration and housing overview and scrutiny panel between November 2016 and January this year, looked at the reasons people become homeless and what is being done to help them.

Domestic violence was the second biggest cause of homelessness in Doncaster, it found, with 29 people citing a violent relationship breakdown as a reason. The loss of an assured shorthold tenancy, affecting 43 people, was the most common factor given.

The report also found one of the challenges facing Doncaster was that it offered a lot of services not provided by other authorities, enticing some rough sleepers to travel from beyond its boundaries for support.

The review also looked at the issues surrounding Doncaster's Tent City, a homeless encampment which sprang up last November and grew to around 30 tents at its peak before being disbanded shortly before Christmas.

It stated that the founders, who set out to highlight what they felt was a lack of action to tackle homelessness, had initially been reluctant to engage with the council.

But the report, due to be discussed by the scrutiny panel tomorrow, says their stance quickly changed and a positive working relationship developed between them and service providers from the council.