I AM writing in response to the letter from Matthew Clifton of Christchurch (Daily Echo, December 10), regarding the recent sad death of Carl, who was rough sleeping in Bournemouth.

Mr Clifton's thoughtful letter raises several good points, not least that rough sleeping is dangerous, particularly in winter, and that intensive work is needed to help people in this situation.

Local residents will want to know that there is an enormous amount of practical support in Bournemouth for people who are rough sleeping, with a variety of agencies and groups who work together tirelessly throughout the year to support people into accommodation and to try to prevent such tragedies from happening.

This includes council-funded accommodation services and the St Mungo’s outreach team, who worked with Carl for many years and were deeply affected by his passing.

The homelessness teams also work closely with drug and alcohol treatment services, social care teams, mental and physical health services and many others including charities and community groups, to bring together appropriate support for each individual.

Nobody wants to see someone die alone on the streets, not least the people who work so hard in these services day after day, building relationships and trust with men and women who they firmly believe deserve a better, safer, life.

That’s why these teams work so tirelessly – they go above and beyond what they are asked to do, to try and get that breakthrough that will help turnaround lives.

Unfortunately, it is far from easy and it is rarely as simple as just providing accommodation. Most people who are sleeping rough on our streets are facing a complex set of needs and some, despite continued efforts, struggle to take up the support on offer, or to maintain the accommodation provided.

As long as there are people sleeping rough on our streets these teams will continue to try to find creative ways to break through these difficulties and change lives.

There is still much work to do.

I would urge anyone who is worried about someone rough sleeping in Bournemouth or Poole to let our outreach team know so that they can provide support.

You can do this at streetlink.org.uk, or call 0300 5000 914.


Leader of Bournemouth council,

Bournemouth Town Hall