London’s homeless given tickets to sleep on buses

London, Sep 24 (IANS) With the number of people sleeping rough in the British capital having risen by five percent, a charity has begun distributing bus tickets to homeless young people, media reported on Thursday.

New Horizon Youth Centre, a charity in central London that tries to find emergency accommodation for vulnerable young people in crisis situations, said its staff distributed bus tickets on a regular basis, and gave young people details about the best routes looping around the capital through the night, so they could have a safe place to sleep, The Guardian reported.

Figures on statutory homelessness released by the department for communities and local government on Thursday reveal that 13,850 new households were accepted as being homeless in England between 1 April and 30 June, 2015 — an increase of five percent over the same quarter of 2014.

The problem is mainly attributed to rising rents, a reduction in the number of hostel places, reductions in benefit payments and changes in the ways local authorities fund hostels.

Shelagh O’Connor, the director of the New Horizon Youth Centre, said that in 2010, the organisation would have been able to find emergency beds for everyone who came for help, but now they were able to help only about 50 percent.

Bus tickets are given when every other avenue has been exhausted “because they are safer riding buses than on the streets”, O’Connor said.

“We tell them which routes to choose, so that they will be travelling around all night. They come back in the morning and have some cereal and a shower.”

Staff also have a supply of sleeping bags to give to young people when they cannot find them beds.

“It is a dire situation. It has never been as bad as this,” the director added.

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