320,000 homeless people in the UK and rising, say Shelter

Whilst the UK government begins to implement lofty plans to eradicate homelessness completely, the reality, say Shelter, is somewhat different.

The charity estimate a minimum of 320,000 people are homeless in Britain and suggest this estimate could well be conservative. The figures include those living rough on the streets and those in temporary accommodation such as hostels.

The stats
Broken down, it means that 1 in 200 Britons is homeless. In London, around 1 in 52 people are considered homeless and 1 in 29 in Kensington and Chelsea, London’s richest borough. There was incremental rises across most of England, Scotland and Wales, which shows homelessness is affecting all areas, not just London. Yorkshire and the Humber, for instance, saw an increase of 13%, the highest rise across Britain.

Year-on-year, 13,000 new people are left homeless. This means that more than 1,000 people become homeless per month.

The reality
More disconcerting, perhaps, is Shelter’s suggestion that these figures are not a true reflection of the problem. The figures were gathered by combining government statistics with data on hostels and temporary accommodation provided by social services.

However, this data does not consider ‘hidden’ homelessness. Hidden homelessness includes those people sofa-surfing and those living in cars, sheds and other insecure places. Whilst Shelter gave no indication as to their true estimate, these are daunting and damning statistics for charities to tackle. Just last year, another report suggested homelessness would rise by 76% by 2026.

What is being done?
Whilst government initiative is slow to get off the ground, there are many charities that tackle homelessness. In cities and towns, where the majority of homeless people live, there are a number of food banks available and promises by businesses to invest in more beds at hostels and temporary accommodation. Other businesses are inviting their employees to bring in tinned food and goods to donate to local charities. The challenges that face every corner of charity are colossal, and especially so in the homelessness sector, but there is hope.

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