Wiltshire

Charity warns of 'hidden homeless' concern in Swindon

A Swindon charity providing food and beds over Christmas for people in need is warning there is a hidden homeless problem in the town.

Volunteers at Christmas Care say they are concerned about the number of vulnerable people they are expecting to come forward this year.

They are also worried the current financial crisis will affect the amount of donations they receive.

The shelter opens at Queens Drive Methodist Church on 24 December.

Patsy Maloney from the charity said he had been told the figure for the homeless in Swindon was 35, but he believed it was nearly double that.

"I'd say there's between 50 to 60 homeless people in the town... sleeping in doorways, car parks and allotments.

'Drink problems'

"They all have a sad story to tell. We'd love to stay open 12 months a year to help these people.

"We say goodbye to these people on the 28th and don't see them again till the following year.

"If we had a shelter in Swindon you could meet these people on a regular basis and get them help because there's young boys and girls out there with drink and drug problems," he added.

Last year the shelter which is celebrating its 24th year served more than 500 meals - including 70 turkey dinners - to its visitors.

Its patron is the Right Reverend Lee Rayfield, the Bishop of Swindon.

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