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Byline: BEN ECCLESTON Crime Reporter

A VOLUNTEER who helps Coventry's homeless has hit out at claims by West Midlands mayor Andy Street that he is helping those sleeping rough.

Earlier this week, Mr Street said there is no need for people to be sleeping on the streets of Coventry and said his newly-created Homelessness Taskforce was showing "encouraging" signs.

However, Matt Cattell says he has "seen nothing" of the Mayor's Taskforce and more needs to be done to work alongside those working to help the homeless 365 days a year.

Matt is a volunteer with homeless charity Cyrenians and also works with Langar Aid to provide the homeless with hot food and drinks, as well as clothing and sleeping bags, in the lead-up to Christmas.

He said: "We are all well aware of the problem of homeless as it's rife in Coventry, as well as every other major city in the UK.

Agencies together to the strategy people off works.

"But Mr Street, here in Coventry we have seen nothing of the homelessness taskforce and, if it is in place, those of us who are working on street level certainly haven't seen it and those who are homeless are certainly not benefiting from it.

Matt Cattell, Cyrenians "Here in Coventry we have the Cyrenians, The Samaritans, Queens Road Baptist Church, Anesis and other agencies all trying to work with the homeless and vulnerable throughout the year.

"What the Combined West Midlands Authority and local councils need to do is work closely with all of these charities and agencies to make sure that the money and support goes to the right people, and must work make sure of keeping the streets Coventry those people are the ones who are sleeping rough, sleeping in life houses or sleeping in temporary accommodation.

"It's all good talking about this 'housing first project' but these people are out of the loop, they have no fixed abode so they can't get benefits and accommodation and then get a job.

"There may be enough sheltered accommodation for all of the homeless people, but the council, charities and agencies all have to work together to make sure that everyone knows what and where is available on a daily basis to make sure the strategy of keeping people off the streets works."

Mr Street has previously said: "Rough sleeping is perceived as a very big issue. But the fact is that, even last week in the coldest period, Coventry City Council had sheltered accommodation available.

"There was more accommodation than there were people on the streets.

"I wouldn't want people reading this to think anyone has to be sleeping outside, because there's definitely sufficient accommodation for people to move into."

The West Midlands Mayor also the causes of homelessness were clear, but tackling them wasn't always straightforward.

He stated: "The data is clear, there are two primary causes.

"One is the domestic situation/ breakdown. About a third of people becoming at risk of homelessness are from that situation.

"You are never going to stop that entirely. What we need to look at is what alternative forms of housing are there, how do people access benefits more quickly when situations change? "The second is this whole question about failure to maintain rental commitments. What we are learning is that substance abuse tends to be a cross cutting issue that goes with other things."

are all well problem of in as are "What Midlands Agencies must work together to make sure the strategy of keeping people off the streets works. Matt Cattell, Coventry Cyrenians


West Midlands Mayor Andy Street
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 23, 2017
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