NEW figures have revealed that the most rough sleepers across the county are living in Taunton Deane. 

Figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show that in the Deane, there were 23 rough sleepers out on the streets, which equates to 4.6 people every 10,000 households. 

In West Somerset, there were 2.5 people per 10,000 households, 1.3 people in Sedgemoor, and 0.5 in South Somerset. 

The figures were gathered by local authorities across the country between October and December 2017. 

A total of 4,751 people slept rough in England on a snapshot night in autumn 2017. This is up 617 (15 per cent) from the autumn 2016 total of 4,134.

For Taunton Deane, there was a 15 per cent increase from last year's number of 20, and a 91.67 per cent increase from 12 rough sleepers in 2012. 

Of the 23 counted, 22 were men and one was a woman. Twenty two were British nationals with one EU national. One person was aged 18-25 and 22 were older than 25.

Chard & Ilminster News:

Figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. 

In Taunton, two well-know groups work to help the town's most in-need people. 

Taunton Association for the Homeless works to accommodate those sleeping rough or sofa-surfing, as well as providing support, and Open Door works to provide services such as food, clothing and personal hygiene. 

Justin Roxburgh, CEO for Taunton Association for the Homeless, said that despite the charity's hard work, numbers are still on the rise.  

He said that issues such as drugs, client vulnerability and the season all impact on the number of people sleeping rough. 

He added: "Our view is that rough sleeping numbers are increasing, despite our best efforts. We are supporting and accommodating more people every year. 

"There are various reasons for this increase. Numbers vary and are seasonal, but around 30 per cent are people who have no local connection and despite TAH trying to repatriate people back to where they have a connection and where it is safe to do so, we cannot force people to return.

"A further 30 per cent do not wish to move into our services but some will be engaging with our Outreach Team. The remaining people will be intermittent users of our services.

"Our work continues to become more challenging as behaviours change and our client group becomes both more complex and vulnerable.

"Variations of Spice and other substances do not help some vulnerable people make the best decisions and hamper our work even further."

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