Less than 100 days to Christmas was the shout in the office last week. A groan followed. The shops have started filling up with Christmas stock and the nights are getting longer. Summer has gone. Politics is still dominated by Brexit and it seems little else is covered by the news. Indeed important stories are being missed or receiving little coverage.

One story, which was shocking, was a report issued by the National Housing Federation. The report stated an estimated 8.4 million people in England are living in unaffordable, insecure or unsuitable homes. Just repeat that number again, 8.4 million people or about 1 in 7 of the population. When I read it for the first time, I was truly shocked. A staggering number. The report did not analyse how many people are affected in Salisbury and South Wiltshire but it must be a significant number of people.

The research, carried out by Heriot-Watt University, estimated that 3.6 million people are living in an overcrowded home, 2.5 million are unable to afford their rent or mortgage, 1.4 million are in poor quality homes and 400,000 are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Another campaign started last week highlighted the plight of Veterans who find themselves homeless or at risk of homelessness. And a few weeks ago the Children’s Commissioner for England reported that 210,000 young people are homeless, either living in hostels, temporary accommodation or sofa surfing.

At Alabaré we are committed to ending homelessness, to prevent more people unnecessarily dying on our streets. Last year we supported over 1,900 people last year in our emergency accommodation, supported housing and training initiatives. All working with the aim to provide that immediate route out of homelessness and supporting people to gain the skills to maintain permanent accommodation. We currently provide 363 bedspaces of accommodation. We are not doing it alone and I am grateful for the support from Wiltshire Council, Salisbury City Council, partner agencies and community groups. To end homelessness it will need a collaborative approach, no one organisation can solve it, given the scale of the problem.

We are already planning for Christmas and winter, assessing the additional emergency accommodation and day-time provision that will be needed. Particularly when the weather is bad. We are receiving our first enquiries from volunteers who want to help this Christmas, which is wonderful. We have already identified we have a shortage of sleeping bags and we will need financial support to run the facilities.

The community in Salisbury is very generous to Alabaré and the other charities working with the homeless. I am very thankful for this support. Sadly there is much more to do. Until we have solved the problem of poor housing and homelessness we should remain shocked by the numbers and committed to addressing the problem.