Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Thursday, 13 November 2008

Charity counts county's homeless

Homeless man
The charity operates an outreach service across Kent

At least 21 people were sleeping rough on one night, a charity's audit of homelessness in Kent found.

A total of 158 volunteers joined the count in Ashford, Canterbury, Dartford, Dover, Gravesham, Swale, Shepway and Thanet from midnight on Wednesday.

Porchlight, which supports hundreds of homeless people in Kent, found 10 rough sleepers and evidence of 11 more.

Mike Barrett, Porchlight chief executive, said the survey could not record the full extent of the problem.

He added: "It does not show the whole picture of homelessness, as we never find all the people who we know are rough sleeping and it doesn't record the hidden homeless - people who are homeless but not necessarily sleeping on the street or at least not every night."

The charity, formerly East Kent Cyrenians, operates an outreach service across Kent to support vulnerable people who are rough sleeping, "sofa surfing", in unsuitable housing or threatened with imminent homelessness.

On one day last month, the charity was helping 124 people.

There were also 194 people on the waiting list, of which 112 were known to be sleeping rough.

This was Porchlight's first county-wide count and is expected to provide the "best practice model" for next year's government statistics.

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