.The 'new and unexpected breed' of Britain's homelessWednesday 31 August 2011 .Exclusive: As austerity cuts continue to bite, Channel 4 News reveals the number of homeless people is surging. Social Affairs Editor Jackie Long finds a new type of homeless person is emerging.
.Average rating 0.0/5Click to rate 1 2 3 4 5 Select a rating 1 2 3 4 5 The idea that former submariner, Ian, might find himself sleeping rough is so absurd as to be almost laughable.
He has what might be described as "military bearing". He's tall and proud and looks like I'm speaking a different language when I ask him why he doesn't go on benefits and give himself a better chance of keeping a roof over his head?
"Why would I go on benefits when I can work?" he says.
But the problem is, Ian can't get enough work. After his marriage broke up, he spent four years retraining as a lawyer.
The sum total of my monthly income at the moment from my three part-time jobs bring in a grand total of about £600 a month and the rent in the flat is £970 and you don't need a PhD in mathematics to work out that's not sustainable.
He hasn't been able to find a full-time job, and as he packs up his many things (this is a man who's known good times) his explanation of why he's moving out of his flat - when he has nowhere to move to - is a simple one. He can't afford to pay the rent.
"The sum total of my monthly income at the moment from my three part-time jobs bring in a grand total of about £600 a month and the rent in the flat is £970 and you don't need a PhD in mathematics to work out that's not sustainable."
So Ian has left his flat in Guildford, one of the most affluent places in the country, and moved into a tent in the Surrey countryside.
We watched him as he tried to maintain a normal life, going to his part-time job in the pub and continuing to look for work as a lawyer. He's bullish and hopes it will only be temporary.
'New type of homeless'
The last time rough sleeping was at the top of the political agenda was back in the eighties.
This time round there are no cardboard cities - yet.
But Channel 4 News has discovered it's pulling in people and places barely touched before.
Not only are the numbers of rough sleepers spiralling but there is a new type of homeless person emerging out of the backwash of the recession.
Figures given exclusively to Channel 4 News by the umbrella group Homeless Link, reveal that of 200 homeless organisations they surveyed, 66 per cent reported a rise in the number of rough sleepers in their area.
At a direct access hostel in Crawley, those figures are no surprise to the manager, Peter Mansfield Clark. He's grappling with some pretty difficult statistics of his own.
"In the last 12 months, we've had to turn away just over 1,900 people, and out of 1,900, almost 500 were women," he explained.
"And we are having to say to people, 'Sorry. We're full and you've got to stay on the street.' It's a horrendous figure."
Fall-out from recession
Peter says he too is seeing a new, unexpected breed of homeless people looking for help.
"We're getting people who, if you like, are slightly higher up the social scale, who have been working for most of their lives. And things have gone wrong with them since the recession."
Young Joe is typical. He seems bewildered as he looks back over the past six months and recalls how he went from full-time work and a nice flat with his girlfriend, to walking the streets looking for somewhere to stay.
"The work just didn't come through," he told me. "It got less and less, so I still had a job but there just wasn't the hours or the amount of days. Not enough to keep me going properly and keep things sweet at home."
'Government has no idea'
Peter Mansfield Clark says he's worried the Government has no idea of the scale of this growing problem - of people like Joe, whose fragile economies are tipping them over the edge and into crisis much more quickly than they might have done in the past.HOW MUCH LOWER WILL THECOALITION TAKE OUR COUNTRY
At the heart of the issue - the figures themselves.
unashamedly pinched from the channel 4 news website