EASTBOURNE PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY: Our concerns over the town’s homeless

File photo dated 18/03/16 of Lucas, a homeless man, holding a sign reading 'Please help, homeless and hungry' in Victoria, London, as ministers were accused of ignoring the plight of the homeless as new figures showed a sharp rise in the number of people sleeping rough on the streets of England. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 25, 2017. Local authorities estimated on a single night in autumn 2016 there were 4,134 rough sleepers compared to 3,569 the previous year - an increase of 16% - according to figures compiled by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). See PA story POLITICS Homeless. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire PPP-170126-115119001

File photo dated 18/03/16 of Lucas, a homeless man, holding a sign reading 'Please help, homeless and hungry' in Victoria, London, as ministers were accused of ignoring the plight of the homeless as new figures showed a sharp rise in the number of people sleeping rough on the streets of England. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 25, 2017. Local authorities estimated on a single night in autumn 2016 there were 4,134 rough sleepers compared to 3,569 the previous year - an increase of 16% - according to figures compiled by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). See PA story POLITICS Homeless. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire PPP-170126-115119001

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Have your say

Following last week’s column by Annemarie Field titled: ‘Think before you give money to beggars’ everyone at the Eastbourne People’s Assembly was left feeling extremely concerned about what had been published.

In this column Annemarie Field had made quite a few extraordinary claims about those who sleep on the street, albeit without any reference to how she came about these facts.

The claims she made ran contrary to what we understand as the truth.

One of our members, who had been out with the Warming up the Homeless Team, reported how this column appeared to have had a detrimental effect on the people sleeping on our streets.

And, so we wish to appeal to the Eastbourne public, to think carefully before casting any damning judgement on those you see sleeping in our town.

Last week, council workers had been out removing some of the few possessions that rough sleepers owned.

Others who live on the street were in tears as they talked about how the public attitude towards them had changed to one of hostility and suspicion.

We welcome the fact that this week Annemarie Field has published another column that gave a voice to those with a more realistic and empathic view of the issue.

The very vulnerability of those who sleep on the streets, and the huge complexity of issues surrounding homelessness anywhere is why we feel great care is needed before anyone jumps to conclusions about those with the misfortune to be sleeping rough.

We all have a responsibility to others and that includes a responsibility to those sleeping on the street.

Our council details, on its website, the number of homeless people as being the number of people who they have a duty to house.

There are many more in our town who have nowhere to call home.

Homelessness is on the rise in the UK and nobody is immune.

Most of us live with just two pay packets in the bank to fall back on if we hit on a bad patch.

It would be for all our benefits if we could take a responsible attitude towards seeking a solution towards this burgeoning problem in our communities.