A CHARITY that helps homeless and vulnerable people in Cirencester has seen a significant rise in the number of parents struggling to pay rent and feed their children.

Volunteers at Cirencester Signpost, whose main focus is on preventing people from becoming homeless, say they have seen a 300 per cent rise in demand for their help.

As a result of strengthening partnerships with other charities, a higher profile and benefit reforms, one to one support at Cirencester Signpost has seen a staggering increase since May this year.

Cirencester Signpost are now regularly seeing in excess of 70 people per week and are preparing for a busy winter period.

They say more families have been approaching them for help due to changes brought about by Universal Credit, which has seen some people suffer a reduction or delay in their benefit payments.

Chairman of the Christian charity, Graham Harris, said: “The situation with social housing is currently so fragile and we are often called in at short notice to help families in the town.

“We have seen a significant rise in the past few months.”

Mr Harris added: “When someone previously homeless is housed, we share in their joy but the experience can be overwhelming, often moving in with little, if anything.

“To meet this need and provide dignity we can supply a home starter pack which includes brand new microwave, kettle, toaster, kitchen and bedding essentials and cleaning items.”

Cirencester Signpost also provides hot meals and helps people find support from other agencies, and works with the housing team at Cotswold District Council, which supplies emergency accommodation.

The council has refurbished The Croft, a seven-bedroom property in Cirencester to house those in need before assisting them into settled accommodation.

The Croft enables its temporary residents to maintain local connections and benefit from excellent access to a range of support networks.

It also has cooking facilities and a communal living room, allowing temporary residents to prepare meals and socialise, giving them confidence to interact with others.

On Saturday mornings at St Peter’s Church Hall in St Peter’s Road, the volunteers provide a cooked breakfast to those needing a helping hand, and there is a children’s menu and play zone.

The charity is also working on future plans including a Christmas Community Meal and the distribution of New Year food parcels

If anyone wishes to financially support their work, Cirencester Signpost will be holding a street collection in the town centre on Saturday, November 23.

Alternatively, a cheque made payable to ‘Cirencester Signpost’ can be sent to Ashcroft Church, Ashcroft Road, Cirencester GL7 1RA.