SIX people, including a couple, were found sleeping rough on the town’s streets during a sweep by homeless and drugs agencies, police and Swindon Council.
The operation was launched amid concerns that numbers of those living on the streets of the town centre had increased, with police reporting as many as 12 or 13 people sleeping rough in areas such as the Menzies Hotel car park.
The decision to carry out the street sweep was made at a meeting of the Rough Sleepers’ Panel between the council’s housing team, Threshold Housing Link, Booth House, Swindon and Wiltshire Alcohol and Drugs Service and town centre neighbourhood police.
Sgt Barry Reed said officers felt it was necessary to try to offer support to those left homeless.
He said: “Two of our neighbourhood PCSOs went out with Threshold, the council, Inclusion drugs service, SWADS and Booth House on Tuesday and came across several people sleeping on the streets or in the Menzies Hotel car park, which is often where they go.”
Three of the people identified were successfully accommodated, one in a local bed and breakfast, one in the Salvation Army’s Booth House emergency unit and another in Threshold’s own direct access emergency accommodation at Culvery Court, in Harding Street.
Phil Smith, of Threshold, said: “In the last two weeks Threshold’s emergency hostel at Culvery Court has taken in five people who have been sleeping rough in and around Swindon. “Unfortunately, our staff also had to turn people away on 23 occasions in the same period because there have been no beds available.
“We are handing out blankets on a nightly basis to people who have no choice but to sleep outside.”
Paul Francombe, 24, has been sleeping rough for three years after suffering from an alcohol addiction but is trying to turn his life around with the help of Threshold.
He said: “In the winter it is horrendous. If you haven’t got any blankets just trying to stay warm is a struggle.
“There have been times where I thought I would die.
“I came to Threshold for help and I wanted to change because of my age, I’m still quite young and I do have family I want to get back in contact with.
“I have been here a week and they have been really good here and I have recommended it to friends.”