At any one time there are around 20 people sleeping rough on the streets of North Devon – but behind the scenes people are working to help them.

Members of North Devon Council's rough sleeper team are out in all weathers and at unsocial hours to check on the welfare of those on the streets, mostly in Barnstaple.

They ensure they are as safe as they can be but also work with them to try and help them off the streets to a better future.

Cases are often complex and challenging, with rough sleepers dealing with multiple issues from mental health to addiction.

Natasha Rowland of the council's Enhanced Rough Sleeper Outreach Team said last year the eight-strong team worked with 155 rough sleepers across North Devon.

She said: "On average on any night we have between 17 to 20 rough sleepers, with the majority being in Barnstaple.

"We have early morning outreach to do welfare checks and to see if there is anyone new on the streets. Added to that is daytime outreach and in addition we work one-to-one with our known rough sleepers."

In addition to the outreach workers, the team includes an adult social worker and a mental health nurse, plus a part time police officer.

Ms Rowland added: "Part of outreach is building relationships, becoming a constant in someone's life and building trust so you are there for them."

The council has 12 bed spaces of supported lettings plus another 31 bed spaces of supported accommodation across the districts, as well as some 'housing first' accommodation for the most difficult cases.

This sees accommodation provided first and then the person's problems dealt with after that.

Team member Paul Dawe added: "Something that we should be proud of in North Devon is we have some of the best informed services in the South West.

"We are all working together - the council, police, health services and all the authorities. We are leaps and bounds ahead of what is going on in other areas."

If you are concerned about a rough sleeper, contact the council on 01271 388870 or email