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Official homeless figures for Southend have been under-reported, according to a local pastor.
Del Thomas told the Southend Standard that the estimate of eight rough sleepers was “a joke”, adding that at least 50 people were homeless. Sleeping in derelict buildings, sofas and empty office blocks, many of these people are receiving inadequate or no assistance, and are going undetected.
“I don’t have the files on numbers or experience of anywhere other than central Southend, but there are about 50 people I am aware of who are rough sleepers,” he explained on his blog. “I don’t know how the official figure was dreamt up, but it is so inaccurate it would be laughable, if not for the seriousness of the subject matter.”
The claims were backed up by the Homeless Action Resource Project (Harp), a local homelessness charity. Local Conservative Councillor Lesley Salter also agreed the figures could be wrong. She said: “I think there are probably a number of rough sleepers who we are unaware of. The figure for homeless people in Southend is actually quite low, but we realise that doesn’t take everyone into account.”