Rise in ‘middle class homeless’

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More and more people are turning to food banks in order to survive.

That’s the claim from charities, church groups and housing bosses who say the so-called ‘hidden homeless’ are increasingly looking to their friends and family to keep a roof over their heads.

Charity and church leaders in the town say they are seeing more people than ever needing help, as bosses at Chorley Council make claims that Chorley’s homeless problem has been ‘covered up’.

The Rev Martin Cox, of St Laurence’s Church in Chorley, and chairman of Chorley’s Help the Homeless, said he has seen an increase in middle class families needing their help.

He said: “Homelessness functions on different levels.

“There is the obvious homeless issue, with people clearly walking the streets with bags and needing to be housed.

“The second level, which is less obvious, are those made redundant, possibly facing eviction, and it’s that area which is growing because of the current economic climate.

“We are seeing that not only in terms of potential rehousing needs, but we have seen that in churches through people coming to us and looking for emergency food packs.

“That really is on the up.

“It’s the people who are undetected, the ones who are sofa surfing, the ones we really have to be scratching beneath the figures to find.”

The church can offer immediate help in terms of a small amount of food and drink, but they also refer cases to a new food store which has been set up at Living Waters Church, on Bolton Street.

Rev Cox said: “It is here where referrals have been doubled this year.”

Pastor John Lacy, at Living Waters Church, said: “To be honest, the food store was put in place out of a need.

“Some weeks we can do six to eight referrals.

“What we are finding is a steady increase, and it is not often the people you expect.

“It’s middle class people who have lost their jobs, but finding they are between being able to claim benefits, and they have bills to pay.

“This is definitely on the increase with the economic downturn. And I can see that it will be used more and more.

“There are a lot of dads with families who have lost their jobs. And there are also single parents, and people who are coming out of prison and are trying to get back on their own feet.”

The church also works with emergency accommodation, including Cotswold House and The Bridge, to give emergency packs for people staying, including a face cloth and a toothbrush.

They are now working in partnership with organisations, including Help Direct and Duke Street Children’s Centre.

And they say they are always in need of more donations, including toiletries, cleaning products, food and drink.

Mr Lacy said: “We have been doing the emergency packs for years now, which is funded by members of the church, and the rest of it is for people losing jobs, and that is why we have opened up the Living Waters Store House.

“Our church members contribute, other churches contribute, and we also apply for grants.”

You can donate tins at Living Waters Church on Bolton Street on Tuesday or Fridays between 10am and 2pm.