Published: 09:25, 01 February 2019
| Updated: 14:12, 01 February 2019
The Minister for Housing and Homelessness came to Medway yesterday to mark the Government's release of the newest national figures on rough sleepers.
Heather Wheeler MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Housing and Homelessness), was joined by Rochester and Strood MP, Kelly Tolhurst.
They were given a tour of the facility and shown the work that the charity does to help Medway's homeless population.
Nationally, the number of rough sleepers fell for the first time in eight years.
There was an estimated count of 4,677 people sleeping on the streets on a single night last autumn, which is down by 74-2%-on 2017 data.
However, over that same period, rough sleeping has increased by 165 per cent.
The number of rough sleepers counted was 934, which had decreased from the same count carried out in 2017, when the figure was 1,119.
In the Medway Towns, a total of 19 people were counted, which was down from 44 in 2017.
"We still have got an awful lot more to do, in this day and age, nobody should be sleeping out on the streets at night," said Ms Wheeler.
"The reversal in Kent has been absolutely fabulous and I congratulate all the charities, council and volunteers that have been involved in getting it done.
"Right across the board, the manifesto pledge was to halve it [rough sleeping numbers] by 2022, and complete eradicate it by 2027."
The MP for South Derbyshire told people, "Please think about giving money to those charities that are helping those homeless people.
"We want to make sure that people have somewhere safe to go and that all means that we come together and make this happen.
"Can I thank the people of Medway for looking after and caring so much about their rough sleepers, because they have obviously told their councillors that this is a priority for them.
"I'm really proud of what Medway achieved."
Figures from Shether which were released in November say there was an estimated 1,100 homeless people living in Medway, the majority of which (1,056) were being housed in temporary accomodation.
This week it was also revealed that 9,303 households in Medway were on the housing waiting list.
Kelly Tolhurst said of the figures released yesterday, "We are really pleased to see that the numbers in Medway have come down and I think it's a testament to the council working with charities, and a political ambition to reduce the numbers of people that are affected.
"I think it's really been a team effort here in Medway and I think that's why we have been successful so far.
"It doesn't stop here, there's still work going on; Medway's still improving services and also with the extra money that's been given to Medway particularly to tackle this issue, has made a real impact on the ground."
Cllr Howard Doe, Deputy Leader of Medway Council and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Service (Con), said: "Any improvement we can make in this situation really gives encouragement. It gives encouragement for the people working with the homeless people.
"I think we have taken advantage of this Government that we are very grateful for. What it means is we can make some real changes to the lives of people. We don'tactually make those chances, they do, we enable them and we make sure that we build their confidence, that they can become more able to mix with other people and they can live the life that we hope everyone can enjoy."
More by this authorKatie May Nelson