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Last Updated: Monday, 21 June, 2004, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
'I would sleep on a bench'
Homeless man
Jason spent a period of two months living on the streets
A rising number of people are becoming homeless in England's rural areas, according to the Countryside Agency.

Homelessness charity Crisis says many people without a home in Craven, North Yorkshire, resort to "sofa-surfing" - moving from one friend's house to another.

Jason Greenwood, 29, is living in a homeless hostel in Skipton - but before the local authority and housing association Craven Housing found him somewhere to live, he spent three months without a fixed address.

"I used to spend the odd couple of nights at my mum's house and then I'd spend a couple of nights on my friend's couch," he told BBC News Online.

"But I went through a period where I was sleeping on the streets on and off for two months.

"It was pretty harrowing at times.

If it wasn't raining I would sleep on a bench in a church yard
Jason Greenwood

"If it wasn't raining, I would sleep on a bench in a church yard.

"It was usually very cold, but in the end I just got used to it and I put up with it".

Initially, Jason tried to find accommodation through a private landlord, but he struggled to improve his situation.

"I was often out of work and found it very difficult to get a job and any form of housing because I had no fixed address.

"I was trying to get somewhere to live through private landlords through a bond scheme, but I just found I was getting nowhere.

"Because of my previous experiences with housing I really didn't have any confidence in the council getting me somewhere.

"I was often depressed, and it took me ages before I made the initial move.

Considerably improved

"It was my own fault I never went to the council earlier because they got me somewhere really quickly in the end and they have been really good".

"I just wish I'd got in touch with them sooner".

Jason's life has considerably improved since he moved into a hostel and he now has plans to become a joiner.

"In the past I've done various labouring and painting jobs, but I want to do something worthwhile.

"I just want to go to college now and become a joiner".


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Tom Heap
"The number of homeless in England's more remote areas has gone up by 30%"



SEE ALSO:
The hidden costs of holiday homes
01 Apr 04  |  Politics
Calls for 'locals only' housing
23 Mar 04  |  Wales
Rural housing market in 'crisis'
20 Feb 04  |  Scotland
City people drive up rural prices
02 Feb 04  |  Business
Big rise in rural homeless
31 Oct 03  |  Mid Wales


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