CALLS to end homelessness in Newbury are gathering support after it was revealed that the number of people sleeping rough in West Berkshire has trebled since 2010.
With temperatures plummeting, local campaigners, volunteers and politicians are now hoping to join forces to ignite a community response and try to finally put an end to the issue.
Shocking new figures show that across the UK, the number of homeless people has increased by 16 per cent year on year.
Local experts say the true number of homeless people in West Berkshire is difficult to determine, but agree it is likely to be far higher than the 14 quoted in Government statistics released on Wednesday.
And with West Berkshire Council forced to make cuts to funding for mental health services and support for vulnerable young people last year, those without a home say they are finding it increasingly difficult to turn their situation around.
Long-time campaigner and charity worker Catherine Knight this week called for charities, businesses, local authorities, politicians, and anyone else who feels passionately about the issue to start a dialogue and work together to put an end to the problem for good.
Mrs Knight has spent years working in the local community to help tackle a variety of issues, including working with the church, Loose Ends charity and the Salvation Army and says she is keen to act as a go-between for the different parties who wish to become involved.
She is ultimately hoping the local community will provide the means to establish a new centre for the homeless in Newbury which focuses on re-integrating people back into society.
“This is the year to crack the homeless in Newbury,” she said.
“It’s about the community that we live in, pulling together."
“These people can only get back into work if they have an address which we hope this new centre could provide.
“I’m asking for anyone out there with a bit of land or a building we could use to set up a new centre to give people a roof over their heads.
“We want to help them make a lifestyle change – it’s about getting them in the right place and getting them engaged in the community.
“If we could ask for people to come forward who are electricians, plumbers, brickies, glaziers, anyone with a trade to help us help them.
Ms Knight, was also quick to point out the work already done by different groups and organisations to help the homeless.
She said: “There are so many unsung heroes doing such great work but you need to encompass everyone to work together.”
Anyone who wants to get involved in discussions to help tackle the homeless issue in Newbury can contact Catherine Knight on 07470 400285 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more on the plight of the homeless in Newbury pick up a copy of this week's Newbury Weekly News