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Helpline advisers gear up for calls from ‘huge’ number facing homelessness

Helpline advisers are gearing up to answer calls from a “huge” number of people facing homelessness this winter as the cost-of-living crisis deepens.

The charity Shelter received almost 95,000 calls to its emergency helpline between August and October – more than a thousand calls a day.

Of these, 78% were already homeless or at risk of homelessness, up from 70% over the same period last year.

Shelter said 70% of callers over the past three months said the cost-of-living crisis is making their housing situation worse.

Advisers on the helpline, which is part-funded by M&S Food, expect to deal with a “huge” number of calls this winter as bills, prices and private rents increase.

Five per cent of every sale from M&S’s Festive Food on the Move range goes towards the helpline, while customers can also donate to Shelter via Sparks.

Andrea Deakin, helpline manager at Shelter, said: “Our advisers are doing everything they can to help people find or keep hold of their home in what’s expected to be one of the toughest winters as the cost-of-living crisis goes from bad to worse.

“Day in, day out our advisers hear appalling stories of people in the most desperate situations, from the man whose increasing rent meant he only had one bag of rice to last him until payday to the homeless families bounced from hostel to hostel.

“We know we’ve got our work cut out, but everyone who picks something up from M&S’s Food on the Move range will help those putting on a brave face despite unimaginable hardship in their fight for a home.”

Jo Daniels, head of partnerships at M&S, added: “We’ve been supporting Shelter since 2005 and have donated £14.6 million in that time thanks to our generous colleagues and customers.

“We are very proud of what the partnership has achieved – not only do we support through our Festive Food on the Move range, but Shelter is also one of our Sparks charities meaning customers can help every time they shop.”