A couple of weeks ago I was able to see first-hand the true extent of street homelessness in Bristol as I joined the St Mungo’s outreach team very early on a Friday morning.

Here’s the press release I agreed with St Mungo’s; and at the end you’ll find a link to their ‘Stop the Scandal’ campaign for a new national rough sleeping strategy. I will do everything I can to support the excellent work St Mungo’s do.

Thangam Debbonaire MP sees how St Mungo’s supports people rough sleeping in Bristol

Thangam Debbonaire, Labour MP for Bristol West, met staff and heard about the work of St Mungo’s in Bristol after joining an early morning shift with workers from the local homelessness team.

On Friday morning (7 July) the local MP joined the St Mungo’s outreach team as they went out across Bristol city centre to support people sleeping rough to find safe accommodation and help connect them with health and social care services.

Recent national research by homelessness charity St Mungo’s showed that four in ten people sleeping rough have a mental health problem. Over half of people from the UK who are sleeping rough need support for their mental health.

St Mungo’s is calling for investment in specialist mental health support for people sleeping rough as part of its Stop the Scandal campaign for a new national rough sleeping strategy.

The charity is also calling for a change in the law to stop people with nowhere to live from being left to sleep on the streets. St Mungo’s is urging all MPs to back the new Homelessness Reduction Bill, introduced to Parliament last week.

Thangam Debbonaire MP said: “My view of the city has been changed forever by St Mungo’s dedicated outreach workers. They showed me the true extent of street homelessness in Bristol, and explained to me the need for specialist mental health and addiction help as well as housing. I went straight from this visit to meet the Mayor, Marvin Rees, who shares my desire to end street homelessness, and discuss how we can do this. Thank you to the outreach workers who showed me what is really going on in our city. I will do everything I can to support their excellent work.”

David Ingerslev, St Mungo’s Service Manager in Bristol, said: “I’m glad Thangam Debbonaire MP could take this opportunity to see the reality of rough sleeping first hand. Our staff go out night after night to assist people sleeping rough in Bristol. Rough sleeping in the city is, unfortunately, on the rise – the official estimate was 97 people sleeping rough on the night of the annual street count in November 2015, this is an increase from 41 people in 2014 and less than 10 people in 2012. What we do is try to help people off the streets as quickly as possible and help them tackle problems that lead them there.”

Howard Sinclair, St Mungo’s Chief Executive, said: “Our national research found that people sleeping rough with a mental health problem are stuck on the streets for longer. To end rough sleeping for good, we need to turn local action into national change. That’s why I would ask members of the public to join us and support our Stop the Scandal campaign.”

Sign the St Mungo’s open letter at www.mungos.org/stopthescandal

Those concerned about someone sleeping rough in their neighbourhood can contact the national referral service StreetLink on 0300 500 0914 or at www.streetlink.org.uk.

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