South Tyneside is region’s repossession blackspot

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MORE South Tynesiders are at risk of eviction than anywhere else in the North East, it was revealed today.

One in 72 borough households are in danger of being turfed out of their home, according to analysis from the charity Shelter.

That compares to an average of 121 households at risk across the whole of the region.

The borough figure is also significantly higher than neighbouring authorities, including Newcastle (one in 95) and Sunderland (one in 172).

The charity is now warning that sky-high housing costs are leaving more and more of our families teetering on a financial knife-edge.

With little or no savings to fall back on, just one thing, like a sudden illness, can be all it takes to tip a family into a downward spiral towards losing their home.

Today Amelia Luffrum, project co-ordinator with the South Tyneside-based charity Hope and Hospitality, which provides support to people facing homelessness, said the new statistics came as no surprise.

She warned that tough welfare reforms were having an ongoing impact and that the situation was getting worse.

And she revealed that some people were seeking shelter anywhere they can – even in wheelie bins.

Ms Luffrum added: “The homeless situation is that it has increased dramatically through our years of operation.

“We have seen situations where clients are sleeping in wheelie bins and in the borough’s parks.

“Earlier this year, we had a middle-aged man who was so desperate he was living in a cave in Whitburn.

“With help from the council, he has now been re-housed.

“The unfortunate consequence of homelessness is an increase in the chances of drug abuse and alcohol abuse as a way of escapism.

“We have also seen a huge increase in our services and our soup kitchens are regularly seeing 35-plus guests at each session.”

The South Tyneside Food Bank run by Hospitality and Hope’s latest figures also show a huge increase.

In 2013, 420 emergency food parcels being handed out, this year, up until the end of October, 1,623 emergency bags were given out to 1,136 people.

The Shelter research found that 140 children in the North East will wake up homeless this Christmas, and the charity is calling on the public to help them be there for every family facing the trauma of losing their home by donating to its emergency appeal. Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Imagine the panic of receiving a notice through the door saying that you could lose your home – that’s the devastating reality for thousands of people every week.

“The sky-high cost of housing is making it harder and harder for families to keep a roof over their heads.

“And with the stakes so high, all it can take is one piece of bad luck to send a family spiralling towards homelessness.

“Our advisers will be working non-stop this Christmas to support families who find themselves battling to keep their home – but our services are already over-stretched and we’re struggling to meet the demand.

“We desperately need more support from the public to help us make sure no one is left to fight homelessness on their own this Christmas.”

To support Shelter’s emergency Christmas appeal, people can visit shelter.org.uk or text SHELTER to 70060 to donate £3

The latest figures are based on the total number of possession claims issued in county courts between October 2013 and September 2014 ·

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