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Christmas shelters busy as UK homeless multiply

Friday, December 23, 2016 - 01:34

At a Christmas shelter in London, the UK's rising numbers of homeless can take refuge from the streets for a week. Lucy Fielder reports.

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A refuge from life on the streets. Christmas shelters like this one opened across the UK on Friday (December 23), run by the charity Crisis. It says the number of rough sleepers rose by a third last year alone. Mental illness forced Marc to leave his office job. Seeing benefits as begging, he eked out his savings until he found himself destitute. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARC ANTHONY TIWARRI, HOMELESS MAN, SAYING: It makes you feel you belong. Because it's difficult being homeless, you don't have a lot, you see the world go by on a daily basis. The people who assist you give you back your humanity, because being homeless makes you feel inhuman. A parliamentary enquiry in August said the government's austerity drive was pushing up homelessness. It blamed welfare cuts and laws making it harder to claim benefits and called on the government to change direction. A new Crisis study also shows how dangerous life on the streets can be. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF HOMELESS CHARITY CRISIS, JON SPARKES, SAYING: We found that if you're rough sleeping you're 17 times more likely to be the victim of violence than the general public, that's one in three. And some of those statistics were so disturbing. Those people were hit, kicked or had things thrown at them. Almost one in ten homeless people were urinated on last year. Little wonder these guests tell us that one of the best things about the shelters is the brief sense of safety they give at Christmas.

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Christmas shelters busy as UK homeless multiply

Friday, December 23, 2016 - 01:34