By Grace Pritchard
Leading Leeds homeless charity Simon on the Streets has highlighted a group of “hidden” homeless people in the city who are missing out on provision and support on offer.
The charity is aiming to bridge the gaps where government policies such as the Rough Sleeper Initiative exclude certain groups of homeless people.
Simon on the Streets offers outreach support to those sleeping rough in Leeds who cannot access other services provided.
Eric Richardson, from Simon on the Streets, said: “Groups like EU migrants are bypassed by support and funding on offer.
“Our aim is to help these people, some of whom have been victims of modern-day slavery in Leeds, and get them into settled space – hopefully in a property run by ourselves.
“So we can hope to secure them a future in the city post-Brexit.”
On the other side of the coin, other groups within the homeless community in Leeds feel left behind and forgotten.
National charity Emmaus has a base in Leeds which aims to tackle this issue, offering homeless people in the city accommodation and employment at the charity’s stall in Kirkgate Market.
Richard Bastow is an employee of Emmaus who was previously homeless in Leeds for two-and-a-half years.
He told Yorkshire Voice: “People get used to life living on the street.
“A lot of the people who are out there just feel like no one cares, especially ex-army, blokes have served ten years and are now sat on the street while it’s p***ing it down.”
“From my experience we’re just a problem that the council wants to go away.”
There was a protest ‘tent village’ set up in 2016 against the Council’s treatment of the homeless community in Leeds.
Richard added: “The tent village saga is just more proof they just want to move us out of the way.”
When contacted, Leeds City Council offered no comment but referred to itsHomeless and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2019-2022 which sets out their vision for the city: “Leeds is a compassionate city where people and services work together to prevent and end homelessness.”