Concern grows for homeless as freeze continues

By staff writers
January 10, 2010

With temperatures unlikely to rise much above freezing, the plight of the country's thousands of homeless people has been highlighted by charity workers, who are urging local authorities to step up efforts to combat the extreme weather.

Shelter Scotland director, Graeme Brown, commented: “We must make sure people who are homeless or forced to sleep rough are not forgotten as this severe cold snap continues. The best local authorities will already have measures in place through their homelessness strategies to ensure no one has to sleep on the streets in these extreme weather conditions."

He added: “As the cold continues, we urge all councils across Scotland to redouble their efforts to make sure they continue to fulfil this responsibility.”

Similar pleas have been made in England and in Wales.

Meanwhile the homeless charity Emmaus has put out an appeal for support as Britain and Ireland continues to be in the grip of the coldest weather in 30 years.

The charity said in a statement: "For those who live on our streets, every night is a battle, often with sub-zero temperatures, wind, snow, sleet or rain. The average life expectancy of a homeless person in the UK is just 42 years – 32 years less than the average for a male. The fact is this: people are dying on our streets."

Emmaus, founded by Abbe Pierre in France, is like no other homeless organisation in the UK. It does not simply provide food and accommodation. Residents in Emmaus houses come off benefits and take part in the running of their communities, working full-time collecting, renovating and re-selling donated furniture.

This supports them financially and enables them to develop new skills and regain their self-respect, says the charity.

It aims to have an Emmaus Community in every town and city where there is a need.

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