Every single person you see on the streets of North Devon or Torridge is accounted for and has a support worker
There are as many as 28 people sleeping rough locally – but they have one of the best support networks in the country.
New figures released by homeless charity Shelter estimated 28 people sleep rough in North Devon, none in Torridge and both areas have a total of 70 people in temporary accommodation.
The Gazette spoke to Nigel Harris, managing director of the Freedom Community Alliance, who said every one of those sleeping rough in the area was known and accounted for.
Mr Harris said the Northern Devon Hub, a network of support formed by North Devon and Torridge district councils and agencies including police, charities and health services, meets at the Freedom Centre every fortnight.
“There is probably the best joined up agency approach of any region and we have very good outreach workers who know everybody who is on the streets,” he said.
“Everyone that is rough sleeping in northern Devon and everyone we know that is vulnerable is discussed informally.
“We look at what accommodation is available and what we can do to help. Even those you see on the high street are known to the hub and they are all assigned a rough sleeper outreach worker.”
Shelter estimates Torridge is ranked 167th in the country for homelessness and North Devon at 196, equating to one in 1,385 and 1,920 people homeless per head of population.
Two workers are employed via NDC, which last year provided services to 101 new rough sleeper cases
Natasha Rowland, NDC’s service lead for housing equality, said: “No two days are the same, requiring a variety of approaches and solutions; most days consist of some form of outreach work, which frequently involves early morning visits at the bed site or through specific referral from partner agencies.
“There are two distinct groups of rough sleepers – ‘entrenched’ rough sleepers who have been living on the streets for more than six months, and those that we term as ‘flow’, who may spend just a night or two on the streets.
“Our overall aim is to safely work with those rough sleeping and also to prevent clients from rough sleeping in the first place.”