IN HIS thought for the week (September 7), Hugh Dickinson poses the question how many homeless people we have in Cirencester?

As founders of Cirencester Signpost, a Christian group run by volunteers that reaches out to the homeless and vulnerable offering support and hope, we can confidently answer “too many.”

This year we have experienced a significant increase in the number of people sleeping rough and with few exceptions they are all local to Cirencester. The biggest changes we have witnessed are; it is not uncommon for women to find themselves having to sleep on the streets, increasing rents with no matching rise in income are proving a tipping point for families and we are seeing older people with no roof over their head.

In the last month, Cirencester Signpost has been assisting a man in his 60s who was sleeping near a car park with the all his belongings in one suitcase. We have been helping several women in their 50s, who were facing eviction through nothing more than a change in their personal circumstances beyond their control. A successful outcome has been secured and they now have tenancies on more reasonable financial terms giving them a hopeful future.

Homelessness is a hidden issue, often caused by a relationship breakdown or loss of a job. While there are those clearly visible on the streets of our town, there are many who exist away from the public eye. Official predictions show homelessness is set to rise.

However, there is one ray of light; the kind-heartedness of many members of the public. On behalf of our homeless friends, thank you for the unseen things that you do that help to make someone feel valued and cared for. It means a lot.

Cirencester Signpost