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Homeless people living in caves in the UK

By Kristen Butler, UPI.com   |   June 12, 2013 at 12:48 PM   |   Comments

June 12 (UPI) -- An investigation in Greater Manchester in England revealed that the homeless of Stockport are using a network of sandstone caves overhanging the Mersey River as shelter.

Stockport has seen a 42 percent rise in the number of people without homes just in the last year. With local shelters overwhelmed, some homeless have turned to the caves perched on a 20-foot precipice. About four can live there at a time, and new people come and go.

"Unfortunately when people are sleeping rough they will come to very dangerous places," said Jonathan Billings of the local shelter Wellspring. "I know of people who have fallen into the river. Sometimes kids come down and set fire to their sleeping bags when they're in them."

Billings said the number of people coming to his shelter each day has shot up form about 60 or 70 three years ago to 140 each day, as the UK continues to suffer the effects of the housing crisis. He added that there has been a boom in middle class people who suddenly lost everything.

About the caves, Billings said "if it wasn't there, it would be somewhere else. I don't think politicians are aware of the scale of the problem."

Council leader Sue Derbyshire said she was unaware people were living in caves -- or that there were even caves there. "I do know we have people going out looking for rough sleepers," she said, adding that they "are very good at getting people off the streets and into temporary accommodation."

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