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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 December 2005, 03:11 GMT
Public services 'fail homeless'
Volunteer Sophie Rudkin washes 58-year-old Colin O'Flaherty's hair
The London shelter could deal with 1.400 people in the next week
Britain's public services are failing the homeless and the government needs to do more, a leading charity has said.

Crisis said the government needed to cut red tape and make it easier for homeless people to get help.

The charity's chief executive Shaks Ghosh said there needed to be "service navigators" to help homeless people find the services they needed.

But ministers said the government had recently invested 350m into services for the homeless.

More action

More than 100,000 families face Christmas in temporary accommodation, government figures released to Liberal Democrat MPs showed.

The total rose by 55% over the last five years, the figures indicated.

Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy called on the government to take more action as he visited a drop-in centre for homeless people at the London Arena in Docklands, which is expected to be visited by 1,400 homeless people over the Christmas period.

It is one of six seasonal drop-in centres in the capital this Christmas.

He said: "The big concern is to make sure the people who are here this year do not have to come back next Christmas.

Charles Kennedy meets Edwin Linton, who has been homeless for 34 years
As a society we could be more imaginative and I think as politicians we could be more imaginative to tackle homelessness
Charles Kennedy MP

"As a society we could be more imaginative and I think as politicians we could be more imaginative to tackle homelessness."

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said it was financially supporting the Open Christmas event and "considerable progress" had been made to tackle homelessness.

Ms Ghosh said: "There are a lot of people who are just cycling around the housing system.

"Basically the problem is they are not getting the right kind of services at the right kind of time. There is a lot of bureaucracy and a lot of red tape."

The seasonal drop-in centre in Docklands has 28 different services including health and dental checks, hair cuts, as well as two sets of clean clothes.

Plan to end homelessness unveiled
21 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Minister makes homeless priority
21 Dec 05 |  Scotland

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