Just keep walking to stay warm

A rough sleeper in Norwich has been telling us the only way he keeps warm in this weather is to “just keep walking”.

Temperatures in the city have plunged to below freezing for the past week, with the charity St Martins trying to provide accommodation for as many people as it can.

However, one person who is sleeping rough told us,

There is no-where to go”

Because he has a dog, he can’t go in the night shelter which opens when it’s below freezing.

As well as suffering from the cold, people on the streets are 17 times more likely to be subject to abuse or violence.

The Dying Homeless Project, found that 1,286 people died while homeless across the UK in 2021 compared to 710 in 2019.

Now that Norwich has seen temperatures below minus seven degrees Celsius, charities fear the number of casualties could keep rising.

Each year there is a street count for people sleeping rough. In 2021, it showed that 10 people in Norwich were sleeping rough on that night.

Although this was a 52 per cent decrease since 2020, according to St Martins, the figures are not accurate because they did not include people who were in shelters and warm rooms that evening.

Chief executive of St Martins, Dr Jan Sheldon, said that her charity’s main mission is to get people into accommodation as quickly as possible.

St Martins works with its partners to provide additional accommodation throughout the winter, including Winter Night Shelters, which is a partnership with the city council.

This year is the 50th anniversary of St Martins charity, which Dr Sheldon said is “not something to be celebrated” because she believes there should be no need for a homeless charity in 2022.

The charity supply 234 beds throughout the city for people who are sleeping rough and has a team of 200 people. On any one day it is supporting around 300 people in the region.

Dr Sheldon spoke about the difficulties of sleeping rough.

“Any time of year it’s unpleasant but this time of year it’s particularly bad”, which is one of the main reasons the charity is trying to accommodate “as many people as they can,” she said.

A homeless man told our reporters, “They just supply food and point you in the right direction.”

Charities rely a lot on donations, however with the cost-of-living crisis Dr Sheldon says that donations have been down as people cannot afford to give as much money.

The cost-of-living crisis will “undoubtedly have an impact on the number of people that end up on the streets” as well as causing a challenge to the charity itself. The charity is not immune to the crisis and inflation is having a huge impact on them.

Junkyard, the local food and beverage market, has been donating money to St Martins which Dr Sheldon has said is a massive help to maintain budgets due to the decrease in donations.

Dr Sheldon believes it is always better to give information because while the charity is serving food, it is also giving specialist support and “that is the thing that makes a real difference for people”.

Leave a Reply