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Fears for homeless as frosty weather moves in

Charities across the East are urging people to check on the vulnerable as temperatures plummet.

Four days of widespread snow are expected this week as the so-called 'Beast from the East' moves in.

It's prompted fears for the homeless after the death of a man who was sleeping rough in Chelmsford.

The body of Rob O'Connor was found in Springfield Road on Friday.

A homeless man was found dead in this shop doorway in Chelmsford. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Chelmsford charity CHESS Homeless runs a night shelter for rough sleepers - and a special winter project to provide more beds.

"Obviously as a charity we operate on a shoestring. We don't have a very big budget in any shape or form and we need central Government to push out more funds to help sort the problem out."

– Rob Saggs, CHESS Homeless

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One of the charities working alongside Tendring District Council in Essex is Winter Warmers.

They are giving out hundreds of bags containing blankets, hot water bottles and clothing to elderly and vulnerable people in the town.

"We've already given out about 500 packs to vulnerable people in the Tendring district and we would be expecting, over the next few weeks, for at least as many to go out again."

– Lisa Andrews, Community Voluntary Services Tendring

Investigation team will look at homelessness in Cambridge

Rough sleeping is rising significantly faster in the East of England than anywhere else in the country, new figures have shown.

In Cambridge councillors want to do more to tackle the problem - which cost the region's local authorities more than £63 billion last year alone.

The city council is launching an investigation which will canvass residents' views on rough sleeping.

ITV News Anglia reporter Elodie Harper spent the day in Cambridge where she met 18-year-old Archie Kinlock.

Watch her report above.

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Homeless shelter helps dozens find new homes and jobs

Homelessness is on the decline in Northampton thanks to a new shelter.

A new homeless shelter in Northampton has helped dozens of rough sleepers find stable accommodation and new jobs

Since it opened in February, around a hundred men in the town have spent time at the shelter. Run predominantly by volunteers, the centre offers support when it comes to employment, mental health or addiction.

Northampton Borough council says the success of the shelter means their overall homelessness figures are actually now bucking the national trend and declining.

  • Click to watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Sascha Williams

Call for more houses after rise in homelessness

There's been a 6% rise in homelessness in the East of England in the past year Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The charity Crisis is calling on the government to fund more affordable homes after a further rise in homelessness in the East of England.

Crisis says government figures show that more than 5,000 households in the region were accepted as homeless in 2012/13, a rise of 6% on the previous year.

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: “This rising tide of homelessness is a direct result of cuts to housing benefit with more to come yet at a time when there is a chronic lack of affordable housing and rents are rising."

"Ministers can and must do more. Their immediate priorities should be to use the Spending Review to rein in the destructive welfare cuts they have made and focus instead on building the homes Britain needs."

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Help for rough sleepers in Ipswich

With temperatures set to fall this week, Ipswich Borough Council is to re-activate its emergency beds scheme for rough sleepers from Wednesday. The Borough Council runs two emergency beds all year round for people in need but that provision is increased to 12 when temperatures drop sharply.

Beds are available on a first come, first served basis and also come with an offer of housing advice to see if trained staff can provide longer term help. The Council is working with local churches, which are also supplying a winter bed service for people in need.

Homeless man attacked

A homeless man is in hospital after being attacked by three men while he slept in a Cambridge doorway. Ian Matthews was kicked in the face and stamped on in Sussex Street early on Saturday morning. The 38-year-old was taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital with serious facial injuries.

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