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    A homeless man sleep's on a bench on the royal mile in, Edinburgh, Scotland

    'Society Can Break Down': Counsellor on Surging Number of Homeless People in UK

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    Nurses, taxi drivers, hospitality staff and council workers were among some common professions that have been recently assisted after being made homeless; with individuals placed in often squalid and unsafe temporary accommodation.

    The latest homelessness statistics showed another year-on-year rise in the number of households classed as homeless, with 79,150 homeless households in temporary housing, including 6,400 in bed and breakfast accommodation.

    Diana Parkinson, a counsellor specializing on the family effects on the homelessness, told Sputnik that we all need a much more equal society.

    Q1: The number of working people and families in stable jobs who cannot find or afford somewhere to live, is on the rise. We're hearing awful examples of cases, such as a disabled single parent, with four children, who was put up in B&B accommodation for nearly two and a half years after her benefits were capped. During this period the council ignored letters from medical professionals outlining concerns that living in the property was affecting the family’s health.

    Essentially, what effect do these harsh and often preventable situations have on the physical and mental health of individuals and also the relationships between family members?

    A1: It's absolutely devastating. The important point to remember here is a lot of these people now struggling to have a home and afford to pay any kind of rent are people who are people who are absolutely vital to society. We all need our nurses and people to drive buses. We need these vital workers because without them rich people who are untouched by all this tragedy, they wouldn’t have that money. They wouldn’t be rich because these are the essential people we need. It's appalling to think that in this day and age we are living in the times of Dickens, in abject poverty, in disgusting conditions and squalor… just to face that every day, society will break down. We all need to look after one another. We need a much more equal society.

    READ MORE: Prediction of 76% Rise in UK Homelessness Unsurprising Amid Welfare Crisis

    Q2: The local government ombudsman, Michael King, said the common perception of homelessness is no longer held true. Increasingly, homeless people are normal families who would not have expected to be in this situation.  It’s safe to say Britain has a homelessness problem. If untreated, prevented and helped… what impact will this growing problem have on working families and individuals?

    A2: Ultimately as I said, society can break down. These are people we need. All jobs are important and everyone depends on everyone else; we need to wake up and recognize that, rather than treat people like they don't matter. Everyone will suffer, it really should not be happening. It’s something we should all be deeply ashamed of, we're coming up to Christmas and perhaps people think of other people and the homeless, but this is something that happens at all times of the year. We shouldn't just pay attention to this issue because its Christmas. There are people in huge distress who are sleeping cars, who are using public toilets to look clean for work. It’s heartbreaking but then the effects of having poor or no accommodation, their health breaks down — mental and physical, putting increased strain on the NHS. Essentially it’s a situation that’s appalling and shouldn't be happening in 2017. There is no need for it but we need radical change.

    Q3: As a counsellor and someone who understands the effects and stress homelessness can have, particularly on families, what would like to see done by councils and local authorities to ultimately combat homelessness but also safeguard the mental and physical health of those made homeless?

    A3: First of all people need to have a roof over their head. We need to be finding ways of at least give people a room that is clean and comfortable. From there on, we need to look at what properties can be made available that they are made to be safe and in good condition. Something someone can take a bit of pride in and call their home. If we don't we can see an increase in addiction. Drinking too much alcohol and using drugs is a way to escape the pain and the misery of being homeless.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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