WINTER began officially with the changing of the clocks last weekend, and sadly we still have a small number of people sleeping rough on the streets of Stroud.

The issue of rough sleeping remains a national disgrace that is unlikely to be resolved unless adequate long-term funding is put in place. I am very concerned that the strategy for helping single homeless people in Stroud district is reliant on short-term funding initiatives and the good will of voluntary agencies and volunteers.

Much as I welcome the caring intervention of local organisations providing winter shelters during extreme weather, there is no substitute for a structured, well-funded approach. Most of the individuals I have dealings with suffer from a combination of issues including serious mental health problems, learning difficulties and drug/alcohol dependency.

These must be addressed with specialist care as well as short-term accommodation. Too often people get help with one element but not the other so end up in a ‘revolving door.’

There is a shortage of suitable accommodation, and central government too often abdicates responsibility by pushing the onus onto underfunded local authorities and voluntary organisations.

I’m a long-time associate of the Marah Trust, which feeds hungry people in Stroud three days a week, and both Marah and the Salvation Army are always looking for volunteers to help. If you are at all interested please contact me on or the organisations.

Homelessness remains a scourge society should be ashamed of. That it is far worse today than it was a decade ago is due to austerity and serious underfunding of the support services that any decent society should have in place.