Homeless support worker now forced to sofa-surf

Nobody makes it their life ambition to become a rough sleeper, says Dr Jan Sheldon

Andrew Wright helped rough sleepers (pictured) - now he is sofa surfing - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A homeless support worker who has helped hundreds of rough sleepers get off the streets is now sofa-surfing himself.

Andrew Wright was made homeless after a relationship breakdown, but the 39-year-old claims he was told by East Suffolk Council that he isn't a priority to be rehomed as he isn't a drug user.

He said: "I am currently homeless.

"I have been a homeless support worker for 12 years and helped so many people get rehoused, but I have been calling the council and hostels in the area but there has been nothing.

andrew wright

Andrew Wright - Credit: Andrew Wright

"The council said I am not a high priority. They rang on a couple of occasions and asked if I do any drugs. I said no and they told me if I did then they might have been able to get me rehoused.

"I am quite offended and it did upset me a bit."

Having spent more than a decade helping others get back on their feet with a roof over their heads, Mr Wright says he has been "sofa-surfing and squatting" around Lowestoft.

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He said his situation has meant he hasn't slept for days.

He added: "I have managed homeless projects in Ipswich and worked in most of the hostels in Lowestoft and Norwich.

"We are talking hundreds and hundreds in terms of the amount of people I have helped to rehome over the years.

"I'd hoped there might have been some sort of appreciation, but it is that kind of situation really."

A spokesperson for East Suffolk Council said: "East Suffolk Council is committed to preventing homelessness and rough sleeping and we are working with Mr Wright to help resolve his situation, however, his Housing Needs Officer has asked for further details to be able to proceed, which we have yet to receive.

"Once we have this, we can hopefully help Mr Wright find a long-term sustainable housing solution.”

Earlier this summer, the council unveiled a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) at a vacant home on St Peter's Street in Lowestoft.

It came after a  bid to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which granted East Suffolk Council £93,312 to provide accommodation and support to rough sleepers during the pandemic. 

An additional £389,482 was then secured to provide support to rough sleepers in East Suffolk through the delivery of longer-term ‘move on’ accommodation.