Shelter reports receiving calls for help every 22 seconds over Christmas

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Shelter says its free helpline received a cry for help every 22 seconds during its busiest times last Christmas - and it fears the situation could be worse this winter.

Research from the housing charity and Marks & Spencer found that in 2016 the Shelter's helpline received over 100,000 calls in the two months leading up to Christmas - while more than 500 calls were made across Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone.

Shelter said a "crippling combination" of homelessness, high rents, problems with Universal Credit and a lack of affordable homes means it is preparing for huge numbers of calls from people who are struggling.

The charity said calls to its free helpline have been increasing by 25% over the past year.

The Government said out plans to tackle these issues in last week's Budget, which included a range of measures to boost the supply of housing and help affordability.

Mark Cook, a helpline adviser for Shelter, said: "Every Christmas I speak to parents in despair as they face the trauma of homelessness, when they should be filling stockings and looking forward to Christmas dinner."

In one case seen by Shelter, a women was evicted from her home after her private landlord put up the rent and she was unable to keep up with her payments. She spent Christmas homeless and eventually called the Shelter helpline for help.

She said Shelter's legal advisers had helped her, adding: "I felt as though nobody had time for me, nobody was really interested in me. I was just another statistic."

The Shelter helpline is funded by M&S customers throughout the festive season, with 5% of every purchase made from its "festive collection for Shelter" food selection going directly to the charity.


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