East Yorkshire homelessness campaigner Andy Walker has denounced the official statistics that underplay the number of people living on the streets.
And Bridlington member Andy points out that behind the shocking data are real people.
Andy, who has worked in computing and data for 40 years, says that officially the number of rough sleepers in the whole of the East Riding is put at 10.
“Everyone at the sharp-end knows that ‘10’ is horribly understated,” said Andy in a letter sent to local media.
Homelessness charity Shelter recently estimated that Yorkshire had 5,664 homeless people, of whom 207 were sleeping rough – a 12% rise since last year.
“The numbers are truly shameful: hundreds sleeping rough and thousands in temporary accommodation in Yorkshire. Here in East Yorkshire, Bridlington has more than its share of homelessness, said Andy.
“The causes are well known: Universal Credit, lack of social housing and the stress of modern living but the solution is not easy. The most important ingredient is the will to do something about it.
“People at the sharp-end, like the wonderful volunteers at The Kingfisher Café [which supplies hot meals to the local homeless] understand how quickly families that are just-about-managing can be utterly destroyed – and they are there to help, when the system has failed.
“In the 21st century, the safety net should not be failing and yet homelessness records another sharp rise this year with The Times reporting ‘Homelessness is rising fastest in Yorkshire..’
“The challenges and solutions will be different for each region and a one-size-fits-all statement from Westminster is unlikely to fix things in Bridlington.”
Andy highlights the work the Yorkshire Party has been putting in to develop its strategy for eradicating homelessness in Yorkshire.
He calls it “a straightforward, five-point plan”. The strategy was published after another Yorkshire Party study showed council cuts to youth services were linked to the rise in the number of homeless youngsters on Yorkshire’s streets.
The Party’s focus on homelessness in the run-up to Christmas comes as several national groups have also released important reports.
The charity Crisis said homelessness in the UK was at a record high with 170,000 families and individuals experiencing destitution.
Its new research suggested: homelessness increased every year between 2012 and 2017: 38,000 under-25s and 4,200 over-65s were homeless; 170,800 households were experiencing the most extreme forms of homelessness, compared with 151,600 in 2012 (this included people who were sofa-surfing, living in hostels or rough sleeping); 12,300 people were sleeping rough and a similar number were living in cars, tents or public transport.