Page last updated at 17:12 GMT, Wednesday, 10 December 2008

More homeless families seek help

Shelter help for homeless families offers a lifeline say users

A charity which provides shelter for homeless families has said the economic downturn has sparked a 20% rise in people asking for help.

Save the Family, based in Northop, Flintshire said the economic crisis was driving up demand for their services, which was more than they could meet.

In just seven months it has had 121 families asking for help compared to 205 for the whole of the previous year.

But of those 326 referrals, it has only been able to help 31 families.

There are fears the situation could worsen.

Tim Mclachlian, chief executive of the charity, which is based at Plas Bellin, said: "We get phone calls from Cardiff, Swansea, London, Nottingham, Edinburgh, all across the country because there are no other agencies that work with the whole family.

"The number of calls that we have had is going up by the day.

"People are getting their homes repossessed and people are finding themselves without work and without jobs."

'Life and death'

Mr Mclachlian said clients had told the charity that without its help they would lose their children to care and end up "dead in the gutter".

He added: "It is life and death which is why in my office I have four boxes of tissues for the staff because we have to make those decisions every day as to who we can and can not help."

The charity has been helping and housing families since 1976 when it was launched by Edna Speed MBE.

Plas Bellin
The charity says it already has more requests than it can cope with

It helps homeless families throughout north Wales, Cheshire and Merseyside and became a charity in 1985.

As well as accommodation cottages, Plas Bellin also provides training and learning centres and play areas for children.

It has helped accommodate and train more than 5,000 people, and in recent years has appealed for funding to build another centre to cope with demand.

On hearing the charity's claims, a Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said: "We recognise the pressure that is being put on people due to the current economic downturn and have taken and will continue to take action to help individuals and families at this difficult time.

"For example, today we announced an extra 4.5m for the assembly government's Mortgage Rescue Scheme, taking the fund to 9.5m a year.

"We have also recently launched the consultation on our 10 year plan to tackle homelessness in Wales which looks at a number of factors, including the rise in mortgage repossessions."

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