SHELTER ISSUES WINTER WARNING FOR WEST MIDLANDS

After a year shaken by Coronavirus, families are living in fear of homelessness and Shelter’s emergency helpline has been flooded with calls from more than 1,400 people in the West Midlands in the last two months, with a new person calling every 30 minutes.

New data reveals that, since the pandemic disruptions began in March, more than 5,200 people from the West Midlands have called the charity’s free national helpline, which is part-funded by M&S. Shelter’s team of frontline advisers are warning of a deeply difficult winter ahead, as even more people face homelessness and hardship after losing income or jobs.

In a worrying sign of the times,one in 3 people calling Shelter for help are families with children, withmore than 1,800families from the West Midlands calling since March. Of the families who’ve reached out for help during the pandemic:

  • 63% were already homeless or at risk of homelessness.
  • 22% needed urgent help to find temporary homeless accommodation.
  • 18% needed help to try and keep hold of their current home.

Vicky Hines, hub manager at Shelter Birmingham, said: “2020 has been an incredibly tough year. Those of us with a safe home to spend lockdown in can count ourselves lucky, when we know just how many families are living through this pandemic without one. Our emergency helpline is open 365 days a year because we don’t want anyone to face homelessness alone this winter or beyond.

“But as more people turn to us for help, we urgently need the public’s support to keep answering their calls. Something as simple as buying a festive sandwich from M&S could make all the difference to a family whose home is on the line.”

To ensure it can keep up with the demand for its services this winter and beyond, Shelter is urging the public to help by buying a festive lunch from M&S. A percentage of every sale from the festive lunch range goes directly towards the emergency helpline – and in the last year funded one in two of the calls answered.

The vital funds raised for Shelter through M&S’s festive lunch range will make a real difference to people who are struggling right across the country.

Chris  Seaby, Head of Product Development for the M&S festive lunch range, said: “The M&S and Shelter partnership has been helping to keep people safe in their homes for 15 years. During that time, we have proudly supported hundreds of thousands of people and families facing homelessness.  We fully support Shelter’s belief that nobody should face homelessness alone – and are proud that buying something tasty from our festive lunch range is a simple way to make a big difference. This year, as more people have turned to the Helpline, we must do all we can to help those who need Shelter’s support.”

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