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Wednesday, 1 December, 1999, 15:28 GMT
Countryside's 'hidden' homelessness
homelessness Homelessness is more visible in the cities

The needs of homeless people living in Britain's countryside are not being acknowledged, say researchers.

Crisis - the charity for single homeless people - says different solutions have to be found to tackle the problem of people living rough in the countryside.

They Think I Don't Exist: The Hidden Nature of Rural Homelessness, was published by the charity on Wednesday, as it prepares to open 65 winter and Christmas shelters throughout the UK.

Crisis - the charity for single homeless people - says because people living rough in countryside are less visible, their problems are less likely to be recognised.

We need deeper understanding and imaginative solutions
Shaks Ghosh, Executive Director of Crisis

Crisis spokeswoman Tamsin Gregory said: "Homeless people in the countryside are more likely to live in barns and sheds, churchyards and fields - and so they are not as immediately visible as homeless people living in the cities."

The charity's chief executive, Shaks Ghosh, said the problem needed "deeper understanding and imaginative solutions".

One solution, said Ms Gregory, might be to encourage the development of "night stops" where people living in rural areas could offer a bed for a night to a homeless person.

She said: "This is just one suggestion, and it obviously isn't going to be appropriate in all circumstances - but it is something that might be right for some people."

Ms Gregory said people in rural areas become homeless for the same reasons as those in urban areas - but services were much less available in the countryside.

Same reasons

She said: "Maybe they have experienced the break-up of a relationship, breakdown of their family, or experienced addiction problems.

"But there are fewer facilities for homeless people in rural areas, combined with the situation that the scale of the problem simply isn't recognised.

"We are concerned that people tend to drift towards the cities if they know that there might be services there for them - but they might not be able to adapt to city life."

Winter Shelter and Open Christmas projects run by the charity house approximately 800 vulnerable and badly housed people from 23 to 30 December.

Guests have access to food, shelter, dentists, opticians, medical services, massage, hairdressing, dog care and entertainment.

For a full list of the shelters, click here.

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