Local charity One Roof Leicester, who also run the multi-faith Winter Night Shelter in the city has seen a large increase in the number of people presenting.
The shelter which has been running since December has taken over a quarter of the officially counted 36 people off the streets each night, offering them a warm bed, meals and company.
In July 2013 Assistant City Mayor, Andy Connelly, set out the new arrangements to tackle homelessness in a 5 year strategy that was centred on prevention. Since this strategy has been in place the government figures show that rough sleeping has risen by 227% in Leicester.
Karen Rooms, Canon Missioner of Leicester Cathedral, said: “Clearly the current homelessness strategy is not working. Behind these shocking statistics are desperate people; sleeping in doorways, bin shelters, bus stations and parks – anywhere they can find to stay safe and escape the elements”
Speaking about this topic at the City Mayor’s question time back in December, Sir Peter Soulsby stated that the City Council’s official rough sleeping figure is 16 and said: “numbers who are rough sleeping are actually quite small.”
When challenged with the Department for Communities and Local Government figures of 22 rough sleepers last year and 36 this year, Sir Peter stuck by the council’s lower figure of 16 and replied: “I tell you, the people that count this, work with those charities and are able to put their professional reputations on the line to back those figures. They are accurate.”
To help tackle these growing numbers, Karen and members of other faith groups in Leicester have come together to set up the Leicester Winter Night Shelter, which has already provided over 500 nights of accommodation and over 1300 meals.
The shelter is managed by One Roof Leicester and is funded through the Muslim charity Human Appeal and Near Neighbours, as well as generous donations made from people in Leicester.
Salma Ravat from One Roof Leicester, said: “The response from people across Leicester wanting to volunteer for the Winter Night Shelter has been overwhelming,”
This project brings everyone together in a shared desire to make a real difference to homeless people’s lives and it’s really humbling to see how friendships have developed over this time and the positive impact the project has had on Leicester.”
In addition to running the shelter, from December to February, One Roof also put people up in hotels as there have not been enough beds in the city for rough sleepers. One Roof Leicester and their volunteers are asking the City Mayor to meet with them to discuss their concerns.