Spotlight on homelessness

 This Sunday marks the ninth annual Homelessness Sunday. Events will be held in more than 2,000 churches and community groups around the UK to highlight the shortage of housing and poor living conditions. Organised by CHAS, the Catholic Housing Aid Society, events include the launch of a low-cost laundrette and clothes shop for homeless people in Edinburgh, dramatic, musical and multi-media depictions of homelessness at a service in Barnstaple, a drama presentation in Derby and many prayer events. Supporters include the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the YMCA, the National Housing Federation, housing associations, as well as churches from all the major denominations. A spokesman for the Methodist Church said: "Homelessness Sunday is valued by churches across the country. It offers us the opportunity to focus our prayers and reflection on homelessness and bad housing, and prompts us to work for change." Sarah Williams, CHAS Education and Media Officer, said: "Homelessness Sunday is an occasion to take stock about what we have done, and to re-focus our efforts on what we should be doing more of and more effectively, to tackle homelessness wherever it exists. It gives us a chance to raise awareness of different kinds of homelessness and to break the stereotypes and prejudices that sometimes confront us.' *In spite of the government's efforts to reduce the number of people sleeping on the streets, the Crisis Christmas Shelters around the country saw an increase in guests last month. Latest figures show a record number of families in bed and breakfast accommodation: some 12,290 households by September last year.

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