EFFORTS to fight homelessness in York are to be stepped up, to try to prevent people slipping into a dangerous lifestyle.

Rough sleeping in York is less of a problem than in many other cities, but it is vital that new rough sleepers are helped off the streets as quickly as possible, council leaders said.

They were speaking as it was announced that the Archbishop of York will next week launch the city's response to a national project aimed at tackling rough sleeping.

Dr John Sentamu, who chaired the city’s Fairness Commission report earlier this year, will unveil the scheme – developed through the Salvation Army, the Peasholme Charity, the Arc Light centre, City of York Council and other bodies – on Monday.

It will outline how York organisations will play a part in the No Second Night Out initiative, designed to ensure new rough sleepers are identified and helped off the streets as soon as possible to avoid them drifting into a dangerous homeless lifestyle. It will also encourage residents to report instances of rough-sleeping, and provide places of safety and emergency accommodation.

The council said rough-sleeping levels in York were “relatively low” but had increased over the last year.

Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing, the authority’s cabinet member for health, housing and adult social services, said: “Rough sleepers need support and advice to make the best decision for their health, wellbeing and security, and with reduced funding we need to pool our resources with partner agencies and invite the public to play their part.”

Dave Knowles, the Peasholme Charity’s chief executive, who chairs York’s No Second Night Out working group, said: “We are delighted the Archbishop has agreed to launch this new initiative as it is important we continue to work to reduce rough-sleeping in York, even more so at a time of economic pressures and high demand for housing.”

Anybody who is concerned about a rough sleeper they have seen, especially outside York city centre, can phone the StreetLink helpline on 0300 500 0914 or log on to streetlink.org.uk so they can be connected to Salvation Army support services.