BOSSES are hoping to end homelessness in Barnsley in the coming years - and a number of charities are using their expertise to support the aim.
Every year around 2,000 people go through Barnsley’s homeless service - with around 60 to 80 complex cases at any one time.
But these figures are believed to be lower than reality due to the number of people who don’t want to engage with services.
Adie Flute, who runs the Barnsley Rucksack Project, which aims to help the homeless and those sleeping rough, said the pandemic has had an impact on those sleeping rough.
He told the Chronicle: “The figures seem very high when you compare them to previous periods.
“It’s hard to know the reasons why they have risen - Covid itself could have had a huge impact.
“There was a lack of face-to-face services but every year it’s getting tougher for people.
“People are losing their jobs, their bills are going up - and obviously food has gone up which affects those who are on the streets.
“Mental health is obviously a big issue, too.
“People have gone cashless - there’s so many reasons why this is happening.”
Adie added that there are some positives as authorities are now working with those who have complex needs - rather than just the so-called simple cases.
“What is positive is that the authorities are now recognising and understanding the real issues,” he added.
“I’ve been barking on about this for years.
“The people who have the most complex issues are now going to be helped.
“It feels like the priorities have now been recognised.”
Peter Mulrooney, who has been a volunteer at the Barnsley Churches Drop-In Project (BCDP) for the last 15 years, said that the number of people they have helped has gradually increased over the years.
He added: “We are a charity launched in 2002 to provide assistance to addictive substance users in Barnsley.
“We operate a drop in service on three days a week providing a small amount of ready to eat food and a hot drink.
“We have always had an open-door policy and our clients do not have to be referred.
“We also offer sleeping bags, tents and some clothing, especially for the rough sleepers.
“From 2002 to 2020 we had a gradual increase in clients from about 12 to 80 per session - but not all of these were homeless.
“During lockdown we patrolled daily and provided ready to eat food and hot drinks to anyone we found sleeping rough.
“We notified Barnsley Council who mostly were able to find accommodation for them.”
Peter added that some of the issues are down to it being ‘too easy’ to buy cheap drugs and alcohol.
“Most of the rough sleepers I know who died had complex needs” he added.
“A lot of effort by local charities, national charities and Barnsley Council has been made in recent years to try and support people in their situations.
“I think that the fact that most of them were addicted to drugs or alcohol kept them very vulnerable and difficult to deal with.
“It is still too easy to acquire drugs and cheap alcohol in the Barnsley area.”