LONDON More than 4,000 homeless people in Britain are expected to use temporary shelters set up over Christmas by charity Crisis, which said the number of people sleeping rough was rising sharply.
Staffed by an army of around 13,000 volunteers, the charity will provide food, shelter, haircuts, massages and dentistry services at shelters until Dec. 30.
According to government statistics from 2015, more than 3,500 people sleep rough in England on any given night, but Crisis said that number had risen significantly.
"In the last year, (that...) has gone up by 30 percent," its Chief Executive Jon Sparkes told Reuters at a temporary centre opened in North London on Thursday.
"That figure has doubled in the last six years so we are seeing a big increase."
For one man who said he had been sleeping rough in London for eight months after a struggle with illness and financial issues, the shelter offers a brief chance to reconnect with a lost part of himself.
"The people who assist you give you back your humanity because being homeless makes you feel inhuman," said Marc Anthony Tiwarri.
(Writing by Patrick Johnston, editing by John Stonestreet)