Archer Project’s Chief Exec on BBC Radio Sheffield

15th April 2024

Earlier this week our Chief Exec, Tim Renshaw, spoke to Ellie Colton on BBC Radio Sheffield’s breakfast show, to discuss the impact of local authority’s over-reliance on temporary accommodation, and the drastic need for suitable housing.


BBC’s Lucy Ashton reports: “Homeless people living in B&Bs and hotels has reached an unsustainable and unaffordable level. The cost of finding accommodation is putting severe pressure on the council's budget, and that strain is going to increase. A council report says the increased demand for accommodation is a national issue, and there are now more than 100,000 households in temporary accommodation – the highest level for 20 years. More than 4,000 people or families applied to be registered as homeless with Sheffield Council in 2022. That's the highest figure ever recorded by the authority.


The Archer Project has recently seen a significant rise in demand for emergency service provision, including breakfast and lunch service, use of shower and laundry facilities, and the need to access medical care.

Tim explains: “If somebody is in a bed and breakfast, they can sleep there, but where do they go for food? They're going to come back into places like ours, just to get the basics of life. So our numbers have gone up massively; we served 135 meals the other Monday, where we'd normally expect to serve somewhere between 70 and 90 meals in a day.

“We have got more people in temporary accommodation, and they're staying in temporary accommodation longer than they used to – just 18 months ago it was much shorter. And that means people who want to go into temporary accommodation can't get into temporary accommodation, so we've got more people who are homeless and rough sleeping.

“There's a reducing private rental sector in Sheffield, so that accommodation isn't available, and evictions from private rental sector is also part of that reason. For services like us on the front line (and others like Ben’s Centre and Framework) it means the work is really, really hard because we're dealing with so many more people than we're used to dealing with.


We know this is not unique to us, nor to Sheffield as a city. The impact of rising cost of living, lengthier stays in temporary accommodation, increased number of homeless registrations, longer waiting lists – all this is part of the current economic landscape.

The government has pledged £3 million to help Sheffield Council tackle homelessness, as part of a larger nationwide initiative. The government claims between 2022 and 2025, it will have invested £2.4 billion in its efforts to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping. But Tim says not enough is being done with regards to prevention, as “we're not looking down the line at those people we know are likely to become homeless and spending money to prevent homelessness in the future.”


Over-reliance on temporary accommodation is also a major issue: “The real hard thing is that when local authorities are spending on things like bed and breakfasts and hotels, that isn't money they can reclaim from central government. Other forms of putting people into longer, permanent accommodation means that central government funds will meet more of that cost. So locally the cost is rising because of having to use the wrong types of accommodation.

“There's a social cost with that as well. Imagine a family having to live out of a hotel room and imagine the impact, for instance, on young people who are going into school from that hotel room. Or somebody who has got to the place of rough sleeping and then going into a B&B, and it's somewhere out in the city, and in the morning you think ‘Well, where do I go now? All I've got is a place to sleep, nothing else. Where do I go? How am I supported?’ And so this strains on people socially, economically, the frustration levels, all of that. For lots of reasons, bed and breakfasts and hotel rooms are a really poor option, not just financially but socially too.”


You can listen to the BBC Radio Sheffield interview at: [1:05:45 – 1:15:30]


To help us deliver life changing support to homeless and vulnerably housed people in Sheffield, please consider making a donation to The Archer Project.

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