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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Fear in Stroud

February 10 2011
Fear of violence is leading rough sleepers to avoid town centre

Fear of violence is leading rough sleepers to avoid bedding down in Stroud town centre, according to the Marah Trust, a homeless charity, reports

The Marah Trust is a Christian charity that supports marginalised people in Stroud. It caters for 80 people at a time and offers, food, warmth, company and advice. Client care co-ordinator, David Guy, who volunteers for the Marah Trust, said: "They do not, as a rule, sleep out in Stroud town centre.

"They live in the woods, garden sheds, old caravans, and cars. The main problem is with people who have no understanding of what mental health issues and addiction mean. A couple of years ago, there was a guy in his 50s who was sleeping in his car. He was not in it at the time but it was set alight.

He added that it is not easy to quantify how many homeless people there are in Stroud, but it is higher than the council figures report. "The official figures the council works on is between one and six," he said. "It is a lot higher than that."

Crime against homeless people is not a problem confined to rural Gloucestershire. According to Living Places: Powers, Rights and Responsibilities, a report published by the homeless charity Crisis, nearly four in five of rough sleepers have been victims of crime, compared to one in five young men, the group most at risk of crime in the general population.

Overall, rough sleepers are 15 times more likely to experience assault than the general population.