Fresh bid to help town's homeless

IPSWICH: A new drive to tackle homelessness in Ipswich is to be unveiled, it emerged today.

IPSWICH: A new drive to tackle homelessness in Ipswich is to be unveiled, it emerged today.

Councillor Richard Pope, portfolio holder for housing services at Ipswich Borough Council, revealed the initiative after a rough sleeper's tent caught fire in the grounds of a church in the town.

Fire crews were called to St Margaret's Church in Soane Street on Monday shortly after 8.30pm. They spent less than ten minutes putting out the flames which completely destroyed the tent.

It had been pitched under a tree in the grounds of the church although two which were nearby escaped damage.

A report outlining a plan to tackle homelessness in Ipswich is currently being drawn up and will be put before the council's executive in the next couple of months.

The council keeps a tally of rough sleepers - figures reveal there were 12 in the town at the beginning of October.

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Mr Pope said: “We are looking at ways we can work more cohesively and make better provision to tackle homelessness in Ipswich.

“I think it's important to remember that it could be any one of us who ends up homeless, especially in the current climate.

“We could all slip into the spiral and end up out on the streets.

“It is very important we look at what we can do to help them.”

Rev Simon Talbot, of St Margaret's Church, said he had not been aware of the fire.

He added: “They have been here for a couple of weeks and as reported before, we are happy for them to sleep here if they have nowhere else to go.

“We do talk to them to see if there is anything we can do to help them and there is someone in the congregation who looks out for them and helps them with specific needs like clothing or blankets.

“There is a mixture of men and women and it changes from day to day.”

Is homelessness a problem in Ipswich? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail