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Thousands of people still homeless on Britains streets in 2018
• Over 250,000 sleep rough in 7th largest economy in the world
• Charities demand the government does more
 
You will probably be reading this sitting comfortably and warm in the knowledge that rain will not fall over your most prized possessions if the skys decide to open. But spare a thought for some of Britains most desperate citizens. At last count over 250,000 people were homeless according to the homeless charity Shelter. This figure continues to rise despite the UK being the seventh largest economy in the world.

On a recent trip to town, I happened to bump into a man cold and forgotten by everyone. A conversation revealed he'd spent his previous night at a shelter provided by a local charity that could not put him up any longer due to lack of funds. "Two weeks here, a couple of day there then back on the streets, behind B and Q, in shop doorways. Anywhere that provides me cover from this freezing cold." The overwhelming feeling after leaving him the only change I had on me was anger.

The gritters were out and the temperature on this day had fallen to below 0. Offers of a free festive dinner may now be over but as the saying goes charity is not just for Christmas.
For many, such as the unidentified stranger I encountered, its now back to the streets. And for a moment I did imagine myself setting down for the night in the back of some bins or a secluded alley way. But it just seems unbearable, and while there are organisations out there that can help, the homeless gentleman explained "without any formal paperwork or an address, the nobody is willing to help you".

Add to this the squeeze facing public services and the outlook is bleak for thousands of people, for who the harsh reality may mean eventual death in this Februarys cold. This cannot be fair.

We call on the government to do more. There should not be a single person in this country that must resort to sleeping rough due to their circumstances. Millions are squandered on wars, thousands go abroad to alleviate poverty in the third world, but charity has to begin at home.
Published: February 2018

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