A MAN who has moved into accommodation after sleeping rough has said life on the streets is “a scary place to be.”

Forty-seven-year-old James had been sleeping rough on and off in Bradford city centre for the last four years, setting up in shop doorways overnight on many occasions.

But he has now found more stability and spoken about moving into supported accommodation.

Bradford Council’s Homelessness Outreach Partnership is working alongside the Council’s Access to Housing Team and other partners to support rough sleepers across the district as the weather gets colder.

The Council says helping people off the streets is a key priority all year round, and support may range from emergency accommodation to a planned move into permanent supported accommodation.

There are 32 emergency beds available across the district specifically to support rough sleepers through Bradford Council’s No Second Night Out Service.

The Council also commissions long-term accommodation for people who have been rough sleeping, with a 34 beds across the district and funding secured for a further 20 beds.

James is currently staying in long-term accommodation run by a Bradford Council contractor. He explained how he had been sleeping rough on and off in Bradford city centre for the last four years, but had been helped into the supported accommodation by the Council’s HOP team.

He said: “The HOP team found me when I was sleeping rough in the city, in doorways or wherever I could find. I was in a bad place with bereavement. I’d lost my son, I’d lost both my parents and was in addiction. I didn’t know how to cope.

“Sleeping out on the streets is hard. It’s a scary place to be.

“I lost myself out there and there didn’t seem to be a way out of it. I have had a lot of help with my well-being. The support I have had meant I could find my way back to reality, and back to myself – to who I really am.

“I am so relieved to be away from there now.

“To wake up knowing I’ve not been robbed, knowing I am safe and warm. It means everything and you never really understand that until it’s been taken from you. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the support I have had.”

The Council’s Executive for Regeneration, Transport and Planning Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw said: “People who sleep rough are some of the most vulnerable people in society. Their lives are often difficult, and they have often experienced trauma so they can be difficult to reach. Giving people the support to access services which can help them is vital.  

“We’re proud of the work of the HOP team, which makes such a huge difference to these people’s lives.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bradford City HallBradford City Hall (Image: T&A)

“The Council has a wide-ranging approach to addressing homelessness rooted in understanding and patience.

“There are many services who work together with external partners to support rough sleepers who may feel like they’ve otherwise been forgotten.

“We are working hard to do all we can to support rough sleepers across the Bradford district to change their circumstances for the better.”

Clare Flannigan has been the HOP team co-ordinator for the past four and a half year. She explained: “James’s story is typical in that we work with people who have very complex situations and very complex needs, who often have backgrounds of trauma.

“When we first meet people literally on the streets, they’re out of options and it’s heart-breaking. We really get to know them while we work with them and to see people make progress like this means everything to us. And it’s a partnership effort, there are many people involved.

“Our work is challenging but it can also be incredibly rewarding.

“We’ve had someone close to death turn things around and make a new life for himself. We’ve had 22 ‘move-ins’ to accommodation last week and it’s those things which make such a difference to us as we work and ultimately makes a difference to the lives of those people.”

As part of the Council’s approach to homelessness there have been investments in other critical services, including the Housing First initiative which provides permanent housing with open-ended, wraparound support for the resident that emphasises choice and control, and expanding the 'No Second Night Out' provision, a commitment to making sure no-one is rough sleeping for more than one night.