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Gimme Shelter: Crisis calls to housing helpline double in NW

Appeal launched by homeless charity as 54,000 left hanging on the telephone

Published on July 22nd 2014.


HOUSING and homelessness charity Shelter is calling for urgent support of its advice helpline, saying the number of calls taken from North West people has doubled in the last two years.*

Nationally, in the last 12 months, 54,000 calls went unanswered, it says, as advisers struggled to deal with the 124,000 people who did get through.

Closer to home, it says its North West helpline spoke to more than 980 people struggling to pay their rent or mortgage, or going into debt because of their housing costs. Overall, calls to Shelter from people in the North West rose by 18 per cent over the same period.

It says that despite increasing the number of people manning the phones, the charity is finding that overwhelming need for their services continues to outstrip resource, making it impossible to answer every one. 

Shelter helpline adviser Nadeem Khan said: It’s heart breaking to hear from families everyday who are desperate to keep a roof over their heads, but it’s even worse to know that at any given time there could be others waiting desperately on the line who we just can’t get to.

“For many people – from a family who have been evicted and have nowhere else to go, to a parent who has lost their job and is struggling to keep their head above water – we are the only place they can turn for help.

“Cut after cut to the housing safety net has left many families facing a downward spiral towards homelessness. We need more support than ever so that we can be there to answer every call for help.”

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “Every 11 minutes, a family in Britain loses their home. With more and more people having to stretch their finances to breaking point in a bid to makes ends meet, it’s not hard to see why.

“But as more people come to us desperate for support, sadly our helpline is also being stretched to its limits."

The charity is urging supporters to donate to their helpline by visiting shelter.org.uk.

Number crunching

From April 2013 to March 2014, 981 people in the North West spoke to a Shelter helpline adviser about housing affordability, debt or arrears problems, compared with 493 in 2011/12 (a 99 percent rise).
The number of callers to Shelter’s helpline from the North West from 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012 was 14,816, compared with 17,452 callers from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014   - an increase of 17.79 percent.

The number of people across the country who called the Shelter helpline from April 2013 to March 2014 was 178,571. Helpline advisers were able to answer 124,620 of those calls (70 percent), and unable to answer 53,951 (30 percent).

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