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A new report says homelessness in northern England has witnessed a 42 percent increase in just one year, with the homeless choosing to live in a network of disused sandstone caves near the town centre of Stockport, Greater Manchester. There have been up to four people a night sleeping rough in the cave system perched on a 20-foot precipice overhanging a river, only a short distance from public view, reported the Manchester Evening News. “The number of people turning up each day for support has soared from around 60 to 70 to around 140 in the last three years”, said Jonathan Billings, a project manager with the local homeless charity Wellsprings. His organization has witnessed a particular surge in demand among more middle class, affluent people. After having worked for years, they lost everything in the downturn, he said. Billings emphasised the risk these people face when sleeping without shelter. “Unfortunately when people are sleeping rough they will come to very dangerous places. I know of people who have fallen into the river.” Official statistics published by the government show a five-year high in homelessness across the UK. This includes 54,540 households declared homeless, with some 4,500 households now living in bed and breakfast accommodation (B&B). MOL/HE
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