Cost-of-living crisis pushing people onto Ipswich's streets

Charity bosses say the number of rough sleepers on Ipswich's streets is rising in part due to the cost-of-living crisis.

Charity bosses say the number of rough sleepers on Ipswich's streets is rising in part due to the cost-of-living crisis. - Credit: PA

The number of people sleeping rough on Ipswich's streets has risen sharply in recent weeks, and charity bosses fear the cost-of-living crisis is to blame.

According to government data, around three or four people were sleeping rough in the town in autumn 2021.

Charity bosses say this fell to just one or two earlier this year, but now it has risen to around ten.

Jools Ramsey, chief executive of Ipswich Housing Action Group (IHAG)

Jools Ramsey, chief executive of Ipswich Housing Action Group (IHAG) - Credit: Andrew Papworth

Jools Ramsey, chief executive of Ipswich Housing Action Group, an anti-homelessness charity, said: "Every household in the UK has been affected by rising prices.

"I wouldn't necessarily say the rise in rough sleepers is all down to the cost-of-living crisis. But clearly, we are expecting it to have some impact on the numbers that we're seeing." 

She said the charity had worked with people who were sleeping rough on Ipswich's streets, but were not originally from the town which would increase the figures.

Ms Ramsey said: "People move around, particularly if they use unhealthy coping strategies.

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"For instance, if they're using legal or illegal substances they might get themselves into a spot of bother with some people and they might feel the best way to make a fresh start is to up sticks and go somewhere nobody knows them." 

Jill Farmer is the founder of Helping Hands Suffolk, a group that helps people who are sleeping rough or in temporary housing by providing hot meals, sleeping, or just a friendly chat. 

She said: "Before I would have reserved, say, 15 meals for the homeless. Now it's up to 20 to 25.

"We see a lot of people who previously would've been at work but now just can't afford to sustain their rent.

"You've now got people who were living in hostels but are now going into rent arrears and they're being evicted.

"They might be in housing, but they just cannot make ends meet.

"The rising cost of living is doing that – it's making people choose: do they eat, or do they do something else?"

If you're concerned about your housing situation or struggling with money and want some advice, visit ihag.co.uk or citizensadvice.org.uk.