Are there pregnant women living homeless on city streets?

A rough sleeper shelters from the elements in the St George's Clocktower in Canterbury (file pic)

The freezing weather Canterbury experienced in February and March drew attention to the plight of rough sleepers living on city streets.

Strenuous efforts were made by churches, charities and the Canterbury Mosque to give them somewhere to shelter during the cold snap.

But for the city council and Canterbury and Whitstable MP Rosie Duffield helping people locate suitable accommodation is part of their everyday work.

Ms Duffield has now told the Canterbury Journal that she counts pregnant women as among those who have sought help from her.

“Housing is the number one thing,” Ms Duffield said. “People need somewhere to live. We’ve got so many people who are desperate.

Rosie Duffield: People desperate for housing

“We have people coming to us who are pregnant and sitting on a bench at night – a couple of people, in fact.”

Ms Duffield, who marks her first year as Canterbury and Whitstable MP next month, revealed that she has a full time member of staff dedicated to dealing with housing and said it was her office’s job to “harass” the council over housing.

But Canterbury City Council, which oversees housing issues in the district, insists it has no knowledge of pregnant women homeless on city streets.

“We know of no such cases,” spokesman Rob Davies said.

​”Dealing with constituents’ queries raised via local MPs is all part of the job and we have a tried and tested system in place to ensure they are dealt with promptly.

“We have been doing it for many years with Sir Julian Brazier [former city MP] and Sir Roger Gale [Herne Bay MP], and the level of correspondence coming in from Ms Duffield’s team is perfectly standard.

“It’s not excessive and we certainly don’t feel harassed – in fact, we welcome it when an MP passes on issues to us, as it gives us another angle to help vulnerable people with their concerns.

“Housing is an issue where we get quite a bit of correspondence. The way to deal with these and help sort problems out, so that nobody slips through the net, is to work with the relevant MP.

“We will be inviting Ms Duffield in to meet our housing staff and give her a briefing on how things work and how we resolve issues.

“But if there is a situation where someone who is pregnant is sleeping on a bench, we would absolutely want to hear about this so we could investigate as a matter of priority. We are not aware of any such cases within our district.”

If you need help with a housing issue in Canterbury, you can access the council’s housing service here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here