01:30PM, Friday 08 February 2019
Government figures have shown the number of rough sleepers in Slough has more than doubled since 2010 – but an outreach worker believes even more homeless people are going unrecorded.
An estimated 29 people were sleeping rough in the borough in autumn last year, according to official figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
The numbers are based on an annual spot check by Slough Borough Council (SBC), police, charities and outreach groups.
This is a 107 per cent increase on 2010 when the estimate put the number of rough sleepers at 14.
But Shin Dhother, founder of the Slough Outreach homeless support group, who went out for last year’s spot check, says estimates are nearly always conservative.
“It’s not a true figure really, in reality,” said Mr Dhother.
“The criteria is they have to be sitting or sleeping in their bedding, they can’t be walking around. We find quite a few that were walking about but we can’t count them.”
Mr Dhother, who speaks to homeless people on a regular basis, added: “Some of the guys say ‘you didn’t find me that night’.”
Based on his experience, he estimates the number of rough sleepers in the borough to be closer to 60.
Some rough sleepers who are wary of authorities may purposefully avoid being found during spot checks, he added.
Letting homeless people know about the checks and explaining the process to them better could encourage them to make themselves known, he said.
“I think there should be clarity,” he added.
Mr Dhother said he believed rough sleeping rates have risen since 2010 but he thinks it is very hard to quantify because people have become more aware of homelessness and are better at spotting it.
A spokeswoman at Slough Borough Council said that, since November, the council has placed seven rough sleepers in permanent accommodation and two into supported accommodation, which has specialist workers on site.
The council’s street homelessness outreach team goes out to look for rough sleepers to offer help.
Slough has a Severe Weather Emergency Protocol shelter, three emergency beds and two winter night shelters – one run by Slough Borough Council and the other by the homeless charity the London and Slough Run.
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