Dorset Council has been working with charities to find accommodation for rough sleepers after the government ordered councils in England to house them by today.

In a letter sent to local authorities on Thursday, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “As you know, this is a public health emergency. We are all redoubling our efforts to do what we possibly can at this stage to ensure that everybody is inside and safe by this weekend, and we stand with you in this.

“These are unusual times so I’m asking for an unusual effort. Many areas of the country have already been able to 'safe harbour' their people which is incredible. What we need to do now though is work out how we can get 'everyone in'.”

In Dorset, council housing officers have been working with associations like the Lantern Trust and Julian House to find accommodation for rough sleepers.

At the start of the week, the council identified 24 individuals sleeping rough across the county. Fourteen have already moved, or are in the process of moving into accommodation, as well receiving the support they need.

Accommodation has also been provided for the eight homeless individuals who were supported by the Bus Shelter project in Weymouth.

Some rough sleepers have been offered accommodation but for personal reasons have refused the offer and wish to remain where they are at the present moment in time. Housing officers and support workers will continue to work with these people and discuss alternative options.

Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, portfolio holder for housing at Dorset Council said: “I would like to thank all our partners, housing officers and local accommodation providers who have worked together to make this possible and provide safe and secure accommodation for our rough sleepers during this challenging time.”