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UK charity rolls out radical plans to curb homelessness in capital

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows the homeless in the British capital London.

A London-based charity has rolled out plans to introduce sleeping pods to scores of homeless in the run-up to Christmas as record numbers of people have become rough-sleepers in the capital and other cities mainly as a result of government-sponsored cuts to social welfare budget.

The 999 Club in Deptford East London said on Thursday that it had constructed fire proof containers for homeless people to sleep in. 

The containers, 2.1 meters high, 2.1 meters long, and 1.9 meters wide, have a mattress, curtains for privacy and also some storage space, said the charity group.

The group said although the sleeping pods were not a long-term solution to the growing problem of homelessness in London, they do provide a much more practical help to rough-sleepers over the winter period. 

“If you get 20 to 30 people sleeping here it can be hard to get privacy – and a big problem for people is snoring,” “The pods offer a little bit more security,” said Tim Fallon, one of the organizers commenting on the initiative.

Recent statistics show that more than 3,100 people were sleeping rough in London between July and September of this year, the first time in recent years the number has exceeded 3,000.

Among the reasons for the rising numbers being cited by charities is an increasing number of people who are unable to have access to affordable housing.

However, campaigners and focus groups have consistently highlighted the growing problem of homelessness to successive governments in the wake of austerity measures but many feel that little action has been taken by the current Conservative-led government in London. 

Statistics compiled by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network show that the number of homeless people in London was up 20 percent from the previous three months, and by 17 percent compared with the same time period in 2017.

Outreach teams and charities also recorded 1,382 first-time rough-sleepers, up by 28 percent from the previous period and a rise of 20 percent from last year.

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