Thousands raised for homeless woman who foiled Oxford burglary

Lottie and her dog Marley outside Lush.

Wellwishers have raised more than £6,000 in support of a young homeless woman who foiled a burglary in Oxford last week.

Lottie and her dog Marley had been sleeping rough in the city centre for some time when she was awoken in the early hours by a man breaking into the Lush cosmetic store.

She challenged him, and took back the £1,000-worth of cosmetics and laptop he'd stolen, returning them to the shop the next day.

Grateful staff at Lush have given Lottie a huge hamper of food, and have set up a GoFundMe fundraising page to help Lottie and other homeless people in the city.

"We have known Lottie for years, and have always felt safer with her outside of our shop. Lottie knows us, knows our delivery staff, knows Lush," they say.

"She knew that the man walking out of our shop was not us, and she did the extraordinarily brave thing of challenging him. And taking back what was not his; returning a box worth over a thousand pounds back to us."

The appeal has already raised thousands of pounds for Lottie herself and for homeless charities.

"Funds will go to buying a small bit of land to put a caravan on," says Lottie. "Any extra will, if I get my way, buy more caravans to allow those who are homeless to rent somewhere cheaply, gain a reference for good conduct as a tenant, time to save money for a deposit while living without the fear of where you will sleep at night."

She's also seen a boat that she believes may be suitable.

Oxford has a high level of homelessness thanks to sky-high rents, and most landlords prefer to let to students as they are seen as more reliable payers than those on low wages or on benefits.

Oxford Homeless Pathways recently said its 200 beds were permanently full, with another 40 people sleeping on the streets every night.

However, the council - whose central government grant has fallen by 60% since 2013 - is cutting services.

"Homeless budgets are continually being cut, services destroyed, in Oxford. There is a dwindling support for vulnerable people and we must fight it," the Lush fundraisers say.

"There are people who are getting sick and dying on our streets, as we walk by. It is our responsibility to speak out, volunteer, become active in challenging these governmental cuts, and the stigma against homeless people."

To donate to Lottie's appeal click here.

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Thousands raised for homeless woman who foiled Oxford burglary

In Scotland, Edinburgh is seen as a city with huge growth potential. In 2014, prices in Edinburgh were up 10% in a post referendum boom that shows little sign of slowing down.

Local agents are not expecting quite such stellar growth for the next 12 months, but they think price rises will be well above the average predicted for the whole country.

Rightmove named this as the area where it expects house prices to grow the most over the next five years. It says that over this period there will be a huge number of people moving out of London in order to afford to get onto the property ladder. They want a reasonable commute combined with plenty of attractions in the local area, and Southampton offers all this. With relatively affordable housing stock, it's a prime candidate for growth.

Luton was Rightmove's candidate for the second biggest house price rises over the next five years. It emphasised that this isn't a mater of opinion, it is the result of crunching the data.

Luton is another major beneficiary of the move out of London, and while it is arguably not as attractive a place to live as Southampton, it's only 23 minutes into central London - which rivals some of inner London's commuter times. With average prices of £179,368, it's clearly a far more affordable option, and the area has already started to show signs of a boom.

This was the third area suggested by Rightmove. As with Southampton, it is well positioned for London commuters, and also has huge local attractions.

A survey last year asked young professionals to name the place they would most like to live, and Brighton and Hove were the only areas that appeared on the list outside London.

One of the reasons it's not higher up the list is that houses are already on the pricey side, with an average cost of £338,956 - up 13% in the past year alone.

There may be few people who grow up with the dream of living in Swindon, but the electrification of the rail line to London will bring travel times down across the West Country, so Swindon becomes part of the outer commuter area.

Given that the average property costs £168, 968, it's easy to see why Swindon will be a popular option for commuters on a tight budget.

Bath is also going to benefit from electrification of the line, because the commute to London will fall to a manageable 70 minutes. The beauty of the city - along with a vibrant social and cultural life - makes it a clear choice for more long-distance commuters.

Of course, with an average asking price of £374,617, it's not a tremendously cheap place to buy, but the geography of the city restricts development, so these prices are expected to rise still further.

Property Frontiers says that the booming house prices in Oxford are set to get even higher. At the moment, travel to London takes 60 minutes, but this will reduce even further in 2016 when the line is electrified. Prices in the most desirable parts of the centre aren't much cheaper than London.

However, further out there are pockets of affordability, and when the Water Eaton station opens in 2015 it will open up areas to the north of the city too.

Manchester has seen enormous property price rises over the last couple of years, and Property Frontiers expects this to continue into 2015.

Other commentators are expecting the growth to slow over the next few years, especially given the gains made since 2012. However, demand for properties remains buoyant, and with the growth of the local economy, price rises seem inevitable.

Rising prices in London have pushed buyers further and further out of the centre, so estate agents are now claiming zone three as 'the new zone 2'.

Savills believes that the biggest gains over the next five years will be the less glamorous districts - putting the South and East in the frame. Gritty areas that could benefit include Ladywell, Streatham and Catford in the south, and Leytonstone, Forest Gate and Walthamstow in the east.

Cambridge could also perform well. It has already had house prices lifted by the growth of tech companies to the north of the city, and the arrival of pharmaceutical headquarters will help push prices up further.

In 2016 a new rail service from the city to the science park will keep prices rising, and beyond the opportunities presented by the local economy, Cambridge is also part of the 'outer commute' area of London, which Savills expects to shoot up in value over the next five years.

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