Shocking state of Cornish homelessness

Cornwall has the third highest amount of rough sleepers from around the country with 99 found in one night.

This is not a definitive number as Cornwall is a very rural county but it is still unusually high.  

Rough sleeping is an issue for many people around the country and can occur for many reasons.

Some common ones are relationships, particularly with parents, breaking down, meaning many young people have no accommodation.

St Austell MP Steve Double told BBC School Report: “Mid-Cornwall will benefit from a £292,000 share of the £50 million Homelessness Prevention Programme.”  This money will be used to help fund many different programmes to help rough sleepers alongside with already running programmes.

One of these new programmes proposed is ‘Nos Da Kernow’. Six staff members from St Petroc’s, Cornwall Housing and Coastline Housing are working together to tackle certain issues that start Homelessness.  Corinna Langford from St Petroc’s says that the programme is:

“Assisting those about to lose their home, threatened with homelessness and also to do some mediation work within families so that young people can stay at home.”

The hope is that this programme will also help to provide beds for people rather than sleeping on the street.

Another program set up to help people are ‘halfway houses’. These are used to support rough sleeper into getting off the streets and to give them an address so that they may be able to gain jobs.

There are currently five in St Austell alone, four being owned by Cosgarne Hall and one called Fresh start. These both target different rough sleepers with a different variety of needs. Cosgarne Hall supports those with alcohol and substance abuse among other needs. Interestingly, it is a ‘wet’ house, which means it permits alcohol use and neither does it have a curfew.

Fresh Start does not permit alcohol use and will evict those that break their rules.

Although these are set up to help people, only a third of the residents of these houses are from St Austell. Due to the large amount of houses in St Austell two thirds of the residents were from other places from around the county and even from around the rest of the country.  Steve Double says: “Because the accommodation exists, people are sent from all over the pace to live in it.”

As the amount of halfway houses increase, more people come to live there.

Steve Double states: “I think it is important that the help that we do offer in Cornwall is fit for purpose.”

Many believe that people being brought into St Austell from around the country is not helping to tackle the situation of homelessness. Mr Double added: “Cosgarne Hall is not doing the job it is supposed to be doing.”

I asked the Truro constituency MP Sarah Newton whether she believes that there is enough funding to help those in Truro, she agreed: “Cornwall Council has been allocated extra funding of just over £290,000 to combat homelessness as part of the Homelessness Prevention Programme.”

Many councils have been meeting to decide on ways to fund programmes to help those faced with homelessness and to help them directly.

Although some believe that much of the help in place is not working many believe that they are doing enough. MP Steve Double says that he is currently ‘calling on the management of Cosgarne Hall to make changes or face calls for closure.’ Surely this would not help those that are currently living here, and make the number of rough sleepers go up, as there would be less in place to help.

Recently in response to Mr Doubles call for closure Cosgarne Hall said: “We always welcome constructive criticism, even if we do not ultimately agree with it. We are by no means perfect and it is only by acknowledging this, and learning from that criticism, that we can improve our service-for the benefit not only of our residents, but also for the community in which we operate.”

In contrast to Mr Double’s strong call of negativities towards homelessness, many MPs believe that they are doing enough. Sarah Newton quoted ‘At the most recent meeting’-between different councils-‘I was assured that the situation was in hand.’

St. Petrocs, Cornwall Housing and coastline housing are open to donations for their up and coming projects. To donate visit localfunding.com.   

A special investigation into homelessness by Lowena Olver

BBC School Report

The Prime Minister responds:

In response to Lowena’s query, a statement from Downing Street said: “Mrs May very much appreciates the time you have taken to write to her. Your views were very well expressed.”

We are still awaiting a further response from the Department for Communities and Local Government.