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This year, 320,000 people were recorded as homeless in Britain, analysis from housing charity Shelter suggests. The 4% rise on last year’s figures equates to 36 new people becoming homeless every day. Though the Shelter report figures show an 8% decrease in homelessness specifically in the North East, many local charities working with homeless people are seeing a large increase to the number of individuals accessing their services.

One such charity, Oasis Community Housing, runs projects across the North East and London supporting over 2000 homeless and disadvantaged people each year. David Smith, Chief Executive of the charity commenting on the report said “We warmly welcome the indication that homelessness in the North East is going down, and we welcome the work that Shelter have done in this report. It’s vital that we know the scale and nature of the problem of homelessness in order for us to address it. In producing this report each year, Shelter are providing a great service to organisations like ours who are working on the frontline of homelessness. However, our experience suggests that the true scale of the problem is much worse than identified in the report, and actually on the increase. In Gateshead and Sunderland alone, our homelessness resource centres have supported approximately 600 individuals this year so far, with 170 of those being street homeless – higher than the 51 quoted in the report for the entire North East. It’s extremely difficult to quantify the exact number of people experiencing homelessness. Hidden homelessness is a real issue and it’s hard to count the number of people sofa surfing for example, or who weren’t on the streets when the count was taken. We’re certainly seeing the numbers go up and up.”

The charity run two homelessness resource centres in Gateshead and Sunderland called Basis, where immediate homeless, or people sofa surfing on the verge of losing their homes can come and get a shower, hot drink, a bite to eat and get the right agencies and charities involved to help build their lives back.

The charity are offering advice to members of the public who want to do something to help those sleeping rough. “Treat them as a person, make eye contact and be kind, perhaps buy them a cup of tea if you have time. If you want to give money, the most effective way do this is to support a local charity working with people facing homelessness, as they have the staff and resources to offer the long-term support that’s often needed.”

The charity have just launched their Christmas appeal ‘Giving a Home’, which encourages the public and local businesses to donate and fundraise towards their work over the Christmas period. Last year’s campaign raised over £17,000, and this year the charity hopes to encourage even more donations so that they can impact more lives and ensure the continuation of their projects which support so many people. Individuals can support the appeal by texting GING25 £10 to 70070.

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