'This should be a wake up call': Guernsey government urged to tackle homelessness problem

Guernsey's government is being urged to act fast to tackle the issue of homelessness in the island. In the last week, evidence has been found indicating that people are seeking shelter in remote bunkers.

One charity says that this, coupled with a photo showing a man openly sleeping rough under the ATM machines in a St Peter Port Bank, ensure that a previously hidden problem is becoming increasingly visible.

Jim Roberts, Director of the charity At Home in Guernsey, says: "It’s extremely frustrating and I think this should be a wake up call for the island in many respects.

'We can see how Guernsey treats its most vulnerable and it is appalling". Credit: ITV Channel

"Seeing visible evidence of rough sleeping is a canary in the mine because it points to other broader problems around poverty and around the lack of an adequate social safety net.

"They say you can judge the health of a society by how it treats it’s most vulnerable and we can see how Guernsey treats its most vulnerable and it is appalling.

"Should it call to the third sector to do this? Surely a housed population is one of the central responsibilities of government".

Paul Goddard took the below photo in St Peter Port bank and highlighted the situation on social media, as he has first hand experience of being homeless.

"I think it’s sickening'. Credit: Paul Goddard

Paul said: "I just felt saddened and I think it’s sickening to be fair. The guy looked like he was in his 60’s".

Speaking on how homelessness affects you mentally, he added: "You wake up, you’re drained, exhausted. It’s constant stress and worry .

"Everyone deserves a place to live and call home – somewhere where they feel safe and comfortable".

Peter Roffey, President of Employment and Social Security, spoke on the calls for more to be done to tackle homelessness locally:

"There is only one solution and that is to create a lot more housing.

"It’s very frustrating that the Guernsey Housing Association ran out of site early in this political term and that super-tanker has been taking a long time to turn around – I think it is now starting to turn, we will see far more affordable housing units being created in the next few years, but this sort of dislocation in the programme should never be allowed to happen again.

"I would encourage anybody that finds themselves genuinely homeless and out in the streets, or in lobbies or whatever else, to go to Edward T Wheadon House. My staff ... will do whatever we can to help".

Health and Social Care said in a statement: "St Julian’s House has been running at or near full capacity for about three years now. There are occasions where we have vacant beds but these are usually quickly filled.

"If we receive referrals but are at capacity, we try and offer advice about alternatives such as certain hotels or guest houses that we know take people".

A spokesperson for Guernsey Police added: "In a case where no clear offence, such as being excessively drunk in a public place, was being committed, officers would do their very best to assist a person sleeping rough.

If you need support or are affected by homelessness, there are local organisations who can help.