A NEW drive to end rough sleeping in the city has been launched by the Archbishop of York, who said it is crucial for tackling “homelessness and hopelessness”.

A group of organisations has teamed up to take part in York’s role in the Government’s No Second Night Out initiative, designed to ensure nobody spends more than one night without a roof over their head.

It aims to ultimately eradicate rough-sleeping and find permanent accommodation for all homeless people.

Dr John Sentamu officially unveiled York’s role in the project yesterday as figures showed the number of “new” rough sleepers in the city, on any one night, quadrupled from two to eight last year.

York’s scheme has been developed with organisations including the Salvation Army, the Peasholme Charity, the Arc Light centre and City of York Council. It aims to help new rough sleepers off the streets immediately, allow swift access to emergency accommodation and services and, if they are from another city or country, to “reconnect” them to their community.

Residents will be urged to report new rough sleepers so they can be supported immediately.

Dr Sentamu claimed Britain was “not happy” because of its “social divide” and said: “The idea is not just to take people off the streets and sweep them out of sight, but to move quickly to find a place of safety for those without a home.

“In this way, those links which have been broken may be rebuilt and restored before the dislocation becomes too great.

“One of the dangers for those living on the streets is that they become separated from society – the rest of the world passes by and tries not to look too closely, and they become almost invisible.

“No Second Night Out helps us look at those who may be sleeping rough in a new way, to see them as individuals who we can help.”

Becky Ward, York’s service manager for homelessness, said York was many people’s “city of choice”, but this included rough sleepers, and its cost of living could cause problems.

Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing, cabinet member for housing, said impending welfare reforms meant homelessness in York had to be prevented from “spiralling out of control”.

To report a rough sleeper and ensure they receive help, phone the StreetLink helpline on 0300 500 0914 or visit streetlink.org.uk