Glass Door charity: Official rough sleeping statistics underestimate London reality

Lilly Subbotin
March 10 2020, 21.00

The amount of rough sleepers in London has decreased by 11% according to Government statistics, but experts say these grossly misrepresent the reality of rough sleeping in London.

According to the rough sleeping statistics released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, there was an 11% decrease in the number of rough sleepers in London in Autumn 2019 compared to the previous year.

Estimates in the report say that there were 1,136 people sleeping rough on one night in London.

Despite Boris Johnson’s hailing of ‘positive progress’, according to a Chelsea homeless charity, Glass Door, this is a gross underestimation of the true scale of homelessness.

The street count for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, for example, took place after the Glass Door shelters opened, meaning none of the people staying in these shelters were counted as rough sleepers. 

Guests at Glass Door are provided with a mat and a sleeping bag Image credit: Glass Door

Glass Door has in fact reported a 24% increase in the amount of people who have sought help at their shelters since last year.

Melissa Kerschen, senior communications manager, said: “We are getting more phone calls every day, we’re getting more people turning up at our door saying we need shelter.

“It does matter certainly how we count these things and we don’t want the numbers to be underrepresented because it makes people who are trying to prove that they are doing something feel better.” 

The figures matter as an understanding of the true amount of rough sleepers is necessary to tackle homelessness; the people sleeping in emergency shelters need to be acknowledged.

The charity urges the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to be transparent in how their findings were conducted in order to show if this is in fact a true representation of rough sleeping.

The BBC’s own research on rough sleeping for the period is five times higher than the Government’s findings.

Feature photo: Glass Door

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