Night shelter for homeless 'not the answer' says Sheffield Council

Anthony Cunningham.
Anthony Cunningham.
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Councillors rejected calls for a night shelter for Sheffield's homeless - but have promised to work with the man who campaigned for the idea.

Anthony Cunningham presented a petition with more than 5,000 signatures on it to a full meeting of Sheffield Council yesterday.

Mr Cunningham, who set up the 'tent city' refuge at Park Hill in December, said he had seen 'bodies piling up' on the streets of Sheffield.

He told councillors that a night shelter would 'bridge the gap' between services and charities by offering somewhere warm and safe for people to stay.

He was supported by Chris Simpson, who asked what the council was doing to tackle the problems of homelessness and rough sleeping.

Councillors generally supported Mr Cunningham's sentiment and passion for helping the vulnerable. But they said the new housing first service - announced the day before the meeting - was a better, more permanent solution.

Sheffield Council has launched housing first to help homeless people.

Sheffield Council has launched housing first to help homeless people.

The council, working with the Cathedral Archer Project and Nomad Opening Doors charities, will spend £354,000 over three years to give 10 homeless people at a time a stable base where they can get the 'wrap-around' support to tackle their complex issues.

Coun Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for housing, said she had taken on board a lot of the ideas Mr Cunningham had come up with over the last 12 months.

But she added: "A night shelter is not the answer.

"We saw what happened at tent city. We know the vast majority of people doing that were not homeless.

"We need to get people off the streets and away from dealers and the people perpetuating this downward spiral."

Coun Ben Miskell said he had spoken to Tim Renshaw, who runs the Archer Project, and his advice was that 'simple one-night fixes' were not the best way to deal with complex issues.

Coun Jack Clarkson said Ukip had asked for a similar shelter in 2015 but had been knocked back by the council.

He added: "That can't cost hundreds of thousands of pounds."

Coun Roger Davison highlighted the new £2 million homeless accommodation block at St Wilfrid's Centre near Bramall Lane, due to open soon, as another example of a long-term solution.

He urged the council to continue the discussion on homelessness.

And Coun Douglas Johnson said if the council had the money for a night shelter, it would be better spent on another solution.

Coun Dunn promised to keep talking to Mr Cunningham, who said he would go 'back to the streets and carry on helping'.

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