A homeless charity has warned of a crisis after a man sleeping in a doorway was left fighting for his life after an alleged night-time assault.
Carl Notely, aged 52, was taken to the Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, after the incident in the early hours of Wednesday, August 10, and was in a coma after the incident outside the British heart Foundation Shop on Printing Office Street. Today it emerged that he had been made homeless from his council home after being hit by the so-called bedroom tax.
It was also claimed he had been thrown out of his home due to rent arrears.
Mr Notely was injured in the doorway of the shop where he had been sleeping, and the incident has sparked concern for the safety of homeless people in the borough
The M25 housing charity, which helps homeless people across the borough, has warned Doncaster was facing a “deepening problem” as a result of the lack of availability and provision of advice and support services to some of the town’s most vulnerable people.
Joyce Foster, executive director of the M25 Housing & Support Group, said: “The current rise in the number of people affected by homelessness in Doncaster is truly alarming.
This...also comes at a time when public attention is being diverted on to problems in Doncaster’s town centre with street begging.
“What happened to Carl was a direct result of his vulnerabilities that come with a life on the streets. This...had nothing whatsoever to do with street begging. Unless urgent actions are taken that hold statutory agencies with responsibility for homelessness services to account to improve access to advice and support for people affected by homelessness, I really fear that what happened to Carl will increasingly happen to other vulnerable people on Doncaster’s streets – there is a real risk that this...becomes commonplace and accepted.”
A Doncaster Council spokesperson, said: “We have made significant investment to support homeless people in Doncaster. In 2015, we commissioned a homeless accommodation and support service, provided by Riverside Care and Support, which includes 24/7 support at two hostels, Wharf House and Open House Plus, and an outreach service where Riverside proactively engage with rough sleepers with a view to supporting them into accommodation.
“We will continue to work with our partners to address the issues of homelessness.”
A spokesman for St Leger Homes said: “We are genuinely sorry to hear of the situation that Mr Notley is currently in.
“St Leger Homes works proactively with tenants and partners to prevent our tenants getting into debt; we also provide extensive support to those who struggle to pay their rent and will only ever carry out an eviction as a last resort.
“We support tenants by carrying out income assessments, advising on benefits and assisting with benefit claims. We also provide debt advice and guidance for those struggling with multiple debts through various mechanisms. We also recognise and provide tailored services to tenants with vulnerabilities.
“For those affected by welfare reform, we have been proactive in providing financial help for the under-occupancy charge while helping tenants to find a long-term solution, for example, moving to a smaller property, or finding work.
“Further to this we administer the council’s ‘No Homelessness’ process which is designed to put in place an additional safety net for tenants at risk of losing their home due to the under occupancy charge. We make offers of appropriate alternative accommodation to those affected and work in partnership with a range of agencies to provide any support needs.
“Mr Notley was provided with all the necessary support, advice and assistance at the time in an attempt to prevent the eviction and subsequent homelessness. A small number of tenants each year are evicted for non-payment of rent as a last resort.
Anyone who has concerns about difficulties paying their rent can call 01302 862862.
Statement from Joyce Foster: M25 Housing & Support Group:
“Doncaster is facing a deepening problem as a result of the lack of availability and provision of advice and support services to some of the town’s most vulnerable people. With that comes an ugly dehumanising effect. Increasingly some local people are acting to disregard the value of the lives of other human beings.
Carl Notely is a 52 year old local to Doncaster street homeless man that is now lying in the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield.
That’s a headline that covers a much deeper story of the poor state of statutory advice and support services in Doncaster. Mr Notely, a former tenant of St Leger Homes of Doncaster was evicted by them due to rent arrears that had arisen as a direct result of the contentious bedroom tax.
“This would be the start of a dramatic downward spiral in his life.
Access to homelessness support is narrowing as local statutory services move closer towards digital and telephone service. Research published by Shelter this week highlighted the growing risk of homelessness facing millions of people in the UK today due to financial stresses. Mr Notely had no financial means to act independently through access to any personal phone or computer.
Access to face to face advice services in Doncaster is shrinking due to the closure of specialist services and a reduction in the value of advice services contracts commissioned by Doncaster Council.
Mr Notely is also a man with the additional vulnerabilities that occur in people with multiple health problems. Mr Notely has insulin dependent diabetes and physical disability issues so severe that he qualified for Disability Living Allowance payments. Mr Notely is well known to Doncaster Council and St Leger Homes of Doncaster having presented on numerous occasions to the Homelessness Support Unit based in the Civic Building. Mr Notely was also previously discharged from Doncaster Royal Infirmary in March 2016 after a hospital stay of around a week due to insulin management problems due to his homeless status. The pressures on NHS services are
well known and this is yet further evidence of the consequences of failures to provide any safety nets of support to those known to be especially at risk.
Mr Notely would then go on to access current Homelessness service support that would further worsen his ongoing health problems. He was accommodated by Riverside Doncaster Council’s contracted Homelessness service provider in March this year. This involved access to an emergency bed for three nights only (maximum length of stay) before being sent out to the Parramore Hotel.
Mr Notely attended the M25 Housing & Support Group for help in July 2016 having been forced to return to a life of rough sleeping for two months as a result of delays or failures in the processing of welfare benefit and housing benefit payments. These were being challenged by M25 Housing and Support Group Specialist Advice services prior to this assault. The M25 Housing and Support Group is Doncaster’s local Homelessness Charity that is continuing to provide advice and support to homeless people without any funding from statutory services.”