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Shelter issues warning ahead of critical Christmas season

Shocking new figures show Shelter received a call for help from the West Midlands every 5 minutes in the run up to Christmas last year, and the charity is warning that the situation this winter could be set to get worse.

New research from Shelter and M&S shows that in 2016 the charity’s national helpline received nearly nine thousand calls from the West Midlands in the two months leading into Christmas.

And crippling combination of rising homelessness, sky-high rents, problems with Universal Credit and a dearth of affordable homes means this winter the charity is preparing for huge numbers of people struggling with homelessness and housing problems to come to them for support.

And with calls from people in the West Midlands to the free Shelter helpline increasing by 26% over the past year, their expert advisers are overwhelmed with pleas for housing help.

The Shelter helpline is funded by M&S customers throughout the festive season, with 5% of every purchase made from the ‘Festive Collection for Shelter’ going directly to the charity. This means the helpline can offer housing advice and support every single day of the year for people battling bad housing and homelessness.

Mark Cook, a helpline adviser for Shelter, said: “Every Christmas I speak to parents in despair as they face the trauma of homelessness, when they should be filling stockings and looking forward to Christmas dinner.

“Even though I’ll be working at Christmas, I think myself so lucky to be able to go home at the end of the day when there are so many families having to go without such a basic need.

“No family should face the agony of losing the roof over their heads, which is why we’re calling on people to get their lunch from M&S’s Festive Collection for Shelter. Something as simple as buying a sandwich could make the world of difference to a family whose home is on the line this Christmas.”

Mike Barry, Plan A Director at M&S, said: “We know our customers care about this issue and purchasing lunch from our Festive Collection for Shelter is a small, simple way they can make a big difference this Christmas. With calls to the Shelter helpline increasing by 25% over the past year it’s more important than ever we support this important cause.”

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