Shelter is predicting an alarming rise in calls from people struggling to keep their homes this Christmas.
The number of people who called the Shelter helpline in 2012 reached 174,177 – a 10 per cent rise year-on-year, equivalent to more than 470 people calling the helpline every single day.
The shocking figures reflect the growing number of people struggling to cope with the rising costs of living coupled with stagnating wages.
Liz Clare, a Shelter helpline adviser for nine years, says the Christmas period is the most difficult time of year for her and colleagues:
‘The threat of homelessness is devastating at any time of year, but it seems to get worse around Christmas as the strains of the holidays close in and the weather gets cold. I’ve never seen the helpline as busy as it has been this year.’
The Shelter helpline is open 365 days a year, with a dedicated team of 50 expert advisors. It is partly funded by the charity’s partnership with Marks & Spencer, whose customers have helped raise over £2million for the helpline over the past eight years by buying millions of Christmas sandwiches from Marks & Spencer’s Food on the Move range.
Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: ‘While most of us will be enjoying the festivities at home with our family and friends, Shelter helpline staff will be taking calls from people on the brink of homelessness. But with the number of calls for help they receive rising quickly, they need more support to keep going.
‘Support from partners like Marks & Spencer is incredibly important to ensure we can continue helping families when they need us most.’
Marks & Spencer’s Director of Plan A, Mike Barry, added: ‘We are extremely proud to be working in partnership with Shelter for the eighth year this Christmas to help homeless families across the country at such an important time of the year.
‘It’s amazing to think how much of a difference can be made by simply buying a sandwich or festive treat this holiday season.’
The charity is urging shoppers to buy their lunch from the M&S Christmas Food on the Move range this festive season to make sure that no call for help goes unanswered.