For many in Britain it will be a tough and cold Christmas.
More and more people are sleeping rough on London’s streets, the number up eight percent since last year.
Rising unemployment and social welfare cuts have tipped people into poverty.
And with Christmas round the corner, one charity, Crisis is expecting to see more people through its doors.
(SOUNDBITE) HEAD OF CRISIS AT CHRISTMAS, MICK BATEMAN SAYING (English) :
“Sadly times of austerity always cause an increase in homelessness and we are seeing that now. There has definitely been an increase in rough sleeping this year and the cuts in benefits are obviously putting more people into hardship, so we are expecting to see more people with us this Christmas.”
Crisis offers hot food, beds, showers, clean clothes and medical checks among others from December 23 to 30th.
A real gift to many.
(SOUNDBITE) HOMELESS MAN, PAUL MASTERS SAYING (English):
“It gives me benefits to get a health check, have a shower every day, eating regular food every day, new clothes. It’s the handiest place to have over Christmas.”
One man was forced onto the streets after losing his job.
(SOUNDBITE) HOMELESS MAN, MATTHIAS OKOYE SAYING(English):
“I lost my job so I can not afford the rent at the moment so that’s why…you know…I got kicked out by my landlord, that’s why I ended up being homeless.”
REPORTER ASKS WHERE HE HAS BEEN SLEEPING
“I’ve been sleeping at the park in Hackney for two weeks now.”
In the huge empty office building in east London, Crisis provides a variety of services for an estimated 3,000 people over the holiday period.
The Charity’s Chief Executive said the situation needs to be dealt with before it becomes a larger problem.
(SOUNDBITE) CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF CRISIS CHARITY, LESLIE MORPHY SAYING (English):
“They have to be given advice, they have to be given emergency accommodation, otherwise a short-term problem becomes a long-term nightmare.”
This is the 40th year Crisis has been running its Christmas programme, drawing in 8000 volunteers.
Marie-Claire Fennessy, Reuters