The number of rough sleepers in the town has rocketed over the last four years, with Government figures showing more people sleep on the streets of Reading than the UK’s third-largest city.
A recent street count conducted by Reading Borough Council found that 22 people were sleeping rough, representing a 38 per cent increase compared to 2015.
More than 4,000 people have been found sleeping on the streets of England every night, with more rough sleepers in Reading than Leeds and Liverpool.
Ian Caren, CEO of homelessness charity Launchpad, said: “A number of people are tempted to sleep rough because they can get more money by sitting on a street corner, rather than seeking safe accommodation.
“The problem with giving people money is that you have no idea what they are spending it on and because a lot of these people have problems with drugs and alcohol, giving them money can actually be counterproductive.
“Reading is incredibly active when it comes to tackling this issue. There are a number of places across the country that offer little or no support for rough sleepers and Reading’s outreach team is on the streets 365 days a year offering advice and accommodation to those who need it.”
Research by St Mungo’s found that four in 10 rough sleepers had mental health problems, 41 per cent needed help with alcohol dependency and 31 per cent had a history of drug abuse.
Howard Sinclair, chief executive of St Mungo’s, said: “Rough sleeping has risen by 51 per cent in the last two years. That’s 4,134 people on any one night in England living each day at risk of violence, abuse and serious ill health.
“This is nothing short of a scandal. Rough sleeping is not inevitable and we know that concerted action works.”
The Government says it intends to help the most vulnerable people by investing £550m to address this problem.
A spokesperson for Reading Borough Council added: “The Council is aware of the rough sleepers and is working to resolve the situation as a soon as possible.
Written By: Luke Adams