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In My View: Homelessness is a problem we need to take more seriously

PUBLISHED: 06:00 13 October 2017

Picture: Getty images

Picture: Getty images

© Getty Images

This week marked World Homeless Day - a chance for people to stop and reflect on homelessness in their community and what it must feel like to be without a safe and secure home.

When many people think of homelessness, a typical image of someone sleeping rough - perhaps in a shop doorway or on a park bench - springs to mind.

Sleeping rough is a terrifying situation that people should never have to resort to, but sadly it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to homelessness.

In addition to recent figures which show that 34 people sleep rough in Norwich every night (a snapshot figure that could be even higher), there are further cases of people hidden away in hostels or B&Bs, while desperately trying to maintain a normal life or hold down a job - all without having a place to call home.

Heaped on top of these worrying realities are hundreds more families in Norwich who are silently struggling to meet their housing payments each month, living in fear that one bout of illness or unforeseen cost could send them spiralling into homelessness.

The latest figures show that over 500 households in Norwich were put at risk of homelessness in the last year alone.

At Shelter, sadly we know all too well that homelessness can happen to anyone, and our advisers can be the difference between losing a home and holding on to it.

Our local services in Norwich work tirelessly to help families facing bad housing and homelessness, and have helped approximately 2,000 people in just the last year.

If you’re struggling to pay the bills, it’s important to get help and advice as soon as possible.

Getting support early could save you from losing your home and having to uproot your children from schools and friends, or moving far away from your work, jobs, doctors and other support networks.

Sadly, what people really need are homes they can actually afford to live in, not beds in hostels or overcrowded temporary accommodation. But until our government finally builds the homes we need, Shelter will be here to provide support and advice to everyone who needs it.

For help and advice from Shelter you can go to shelter.org.uk/get_help as a first port of call us on 03445151860 to make a face-to-face appointment with one of our advisers.

There are other places to go for help too, and our colleagues from across the Homeless Forum are also there to support people who are struggling. If you or someone you know is sleeping rough, you can contact Streetlink on 0300 500 0914.

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