How YOU can help the homeless in Coventry - as thousands face Christmas on the streets

Coventry has been revealed as one of the homeless hotspots of the UK.

In a study compiled by Shelter, Coventry has come only behind Birmingham in the West Midlands region, and has even made the top 50 places for homelessness in the entire country.

The charity stitched together statistics from Government, social services and councils and used the Freedom Of Information Act to develop what it has called the most accurate picture yet of homelessness in the UK.

Coventry has an estimated 1686 homeless people living in temporary accommodation; one in every 204 people.

The charity said there are also nine people sleeping rough on the streets each night.

Shelter says this new report makes equally grim reading and comes a day after a 30-year-old homeless man was found dead in Birmingham city centre (see video above).

So, what can we - as a city - do about it?

You don't have to donate money

A study polled homeless people about what they needed most - and the answers may surprise you.

42 per cent said help finding a job, 38 per cent said finding housing, 30 per cent said money, 13 per cent said training or medical care.

Charities say that the public can help the homeless without giving over money to those begging.

They say making a donation to a homeless charity, engaging rough sleepers in conversation or volunteering time are other ways of providing support.

Strike up a conversation

Earlier this year, the Liverpool Echo met with people living on the city’s streets who each shared their story of how they ended up without a roof over their head.

Former shop worker Damien Black, who said he slept in an unused bin shed, said the worst thing was being ignored.

He said: “90% of people look through you - I’d rather be told to f*** off than be ignored.

"People blanking you cuts deep.”

Contact aid services

There's a handy service Streetlink, which helps refer the homeless to relevant agencies, allowing them to find shelter and comfort.

StreetLink operates across England and Wales, so you can get in touch with them about rough sleepers anywhere in these two countries.

You can find them on StreetLink.org.uk, call their 24-hour hotline on 0300 500 0914 , or download their app on your iPhone or Android.

If you’re using the app or the website, StreetLink has an online form you can fill in to let them know when and where someone is sleeping rough.

The charity says: "We are funded by the Government as part of its commitment to end rough sleeping. We aim to offer the public a means to act when they see someone sleeping rough, and provide the first step someone can take to ensure people sleeping rough are connected to the local services and support available to them."

Read More Go shopping

There are a number of charity shops across Coventry and Warwickshire that raise money to support the homeless.

Pick up a few bargains for yourself and do some thrifty Christmas shopping to help give some extra cash to those in need.

Christmas shopping in Coventry Spend a night under the stars

Earlier this summer, the second St Basils SleepOut in the city was held.

People are invited to ‘rough it’ for a night to raise funds for the youth homelessness charity.

The Dean of Coventry Cathedral, chairman of Coventry Business Improvement District and a councillor were among the first to sign-up.

The iconic setting of the ruins of the Old St Michael’s Cathedral played host.

Steve Rainbow, organiser of all the St Basils SleepOut events, said: “The idea is that big-hearted people from Coventry sleep rough so that young people from Coventry don’t have to do it for real.

“St Basils provide vital services for young vulnerable people at risk of homelessness in this city and you can help them continue this vital work by signing up for this legendary event."

People from the Coventry area are setting up for the St Basil's sleep out in the grounds of the old Coventry Cathedral. Pictured is left to right, Gareth Humphries; Tom Dingley; Hayten Patel; Back Coventry Cyrenians

Coventry Cyrenians provide a comprehensive range of high quality services to homeless and vulnerably housed people in Coventry and Warwickshire with the objective of improving their quality of life and to empower them to live as independently as possible.

The traditional view of homelessness has tended to focus on negative stereotypes.

At Coventry Cyrenians, they view their role as helping people to rebuild their lives.

Get involved by clicking here.

Install EasyFundraising

All you need to do is download this app and you will be able to give to charity every time you shop.

And it doesn’t actually cost you anything.

More than 3,000 businesses – including supermarkets and online travel agents such as Tesco, Expedia and a range of major insurance companies – are connected to the app, meaning that each time you buy something they will give a commission to the charity of your choice.

Tesco are just one of the companies connected.

Read More Support Street

Following from the success of the restaurants’ charity appeal last year, Earlsdon restaurant Street are also teaming up again with the Salvation Army, donating £2 from every dessert sold throughout the month directly to the Salvation Army’s hostel in Coventry.

The fund will be used to feed 80-100 homeless people on Christmas Day.

(Photo: Mark Radford) Read More Help the homeless have a Christmas dinner

Crisis Crisis Skylight Coventry and Warwickshire is an outreach service that works with homeless individuals and those at risk of homelessness.

Crisis at Christmas is made possible through the generosity of thousands of companies, community organisations and individuals who donate goods, services, expertise, skills, time and money to help homeless people over Christmas.

Last year, the vital support provided by donors enabled Crisis at Christmas to provide a warm place of companionship and compassion to the homeless in Coventry on Christmas day.

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