Teens resort to sleeping in park

TEENAGERS in Ipswich have resorted to sleeping in parks because ALL hostel and housing association beds in the town are taken, The Evening Star can reveal today.

TEENAGERS in Ipswich have resorted to sleeping in parks because ALL hostel and housing association beds in the town are taken, The Evening Star can reveal today.

In total there are more than 230 rooms at various locations around the town.

However a Star investigation found that on one night ALL places taken with some waiting lists running to as long as six months.

Ipswich Council runs an emergency accommodation scheme but has just two beds which can only be used for a single night.

Jade Field, 18, said the situation is so bad that both she and her friend Kylie, also 18, had slept in a park for around a week.

This is despite the pair claiming they approached hostels and the council for help.

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She said: “I'm scared about staying out in the park but I have no other choice.

“I'm in a bit of a state really.

“I have been to the council four times.

“I asked them if they could put me anywhere, I didn't care where it was.

“They told me I was not a priority.

“All the hostels are full and we have tried asking about getting housing benefit and renting privately but we haven't got a guarantor.

“I don't know what we are going to do.”

Out of the seven housing associations and hostels contacted by The Star on a single evening, not one had a room spare.

Ipswich Borough councillor Steven Wells, responsible for housing, said he was concerned by the lack of rooms available in the town but said the council would provide a bed to anyone with a genuine desire to stay off the streets.

He added that efforts would be made to find accommodation for Ms Field.

Cllr Wells said: “We have an obligation to look after under 18s, the vulnerable, those with children, disabilities or learning difficulties.

“We also have a statutory duty to everyone else to give the best advice possible.

“Personally I disagree with the statutory obligations and think the government should re-look at them.

“We try and take the extra step and extra commitment to make sure nobody needs to sleep rough in Ipswich if they don't want to.

“We do not just have two beds - we can purchase more if necessary.

“For people who want to get a permanent solution we will work with them and not turn them away.

“We will keep allowing them to stay until the situation is resolved.”

DO you think Ipswich has enough provision for the homeless? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Room at the inn?

YMCA: 64 single person flats NO VACANCIES waiting list of “months”.

St Matthew Society: 33 spaces at two locations NO VACANCIES

YWCA: NO VACANCIES - waiting list of 2-3 months

Salvation Army: 39 beds - NO VACANCIES

Sanctuary Housing - 14 beds - NO VACANCIES - six month waiting list currently containing around 40 people

Ipswich Housing Action Group - 55 beds in 14 houses - NO VACANCIES - 3-6 month waiting list

Orwell Housing Association - 29 beds - NO VACANCIES

Ipswich Borough Council - two emergency beds - an annual occupancy rate of around 30 per cent.

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