MORE than 130 rough sleepers have been helped off the street and placed into accommodation since the start of the pandemic, new figures have revealed.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to an increase in single people seeking help through the government’s Everyone In programme, which asks local authorities to ensure all rough sleepers are offered temporary accommodation.

A total of 135 rough sleepers have been supported through the scheme since the start of the pandemic.

Michelle Kaye, the group leader of housing and welfare at Barnsley Council, said: “Our reasons for homelessness have not really changed over the last four or five years and have been things like friends and family no longer willing to accommodate, relationship breakdown, prison release cases and hospital discharge.

“We are conscious that part of our strategy is to prevent repeat homelessness and so we’re working quite closely with prisons and the hospitals to look at that as a high pressure area.

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“We still see a lot of single people presented to us, often sofa surfing, and one of things we have seen a spike in through Covid is approached due to domestic abuse and that’s an area that we are working on going forward.”

More than £250,000 was spent on temporary accommodation in bed and breakfasts in 2020/21 - a hike from the previous year’s spend of £140,000.

Expenditure has increased year-on-year since 2015/16, when it was under £25,000.

“Before the pandemic we were doing some really good work around prevention and we were starting to turn that curve and more people were coming in in prevention rather than relief,” Michelle added.

“Because of Covid I think it’s flipped it again back to people presenting in crisis but in the coming year we want to move back to the preventative approach.

“It is essential in these circumstances that we ensure people contact us or seek advice at the earliest opportunity to prevent a reactive crisis.”