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"I've been sleeping in this car park for two years"

Anthony has been sleeping rough for the past two years Credit: ITV Meridian

Anthony points to the place he's called home for the past two years: an indoor car park in Hampshire.

With long-term alcohol addiction and serious financial problems, Anthony ended up losing the house he shared with his brother and found himself searching for anywhere warm to sleep.

See where Anthony has lived for the past 2 years below:

His story is not unusual. Over the past couple of years, there has been a dramatic rise in rough sleeping across the south. Many are suffering from addiction, as well as mental health problems.

  • In Oxford, the number has doubled over the past 2 years
  • In Brighton, the number has doubled over the past 5 years
  • In Aldershot, the number has doubled over the past year

In Anthony's town of Aldershot, charities recorded 39 people as sleeping rough last month - out of a population of just 36,000. That means 1 in 1,000 people in the area are living on the streets. Double the amount last year.

1in1000
People sleeping rough in Aldershot

Rushmoor Borough Council, which covers Aldershot, launched an emergency 'hub' with local charities at the end of September, to deal with the town's rocketing population of rough sleepers.

They managed to provide shelter for almost a quarter of them.

Finding temporary accommodation is the very first step towards helping rough sleepers get off the streets and start rebuilding their lives. Not only does it provide them with somewhere warm and safe, it gives them a base to start taking care of their appearance and apply for jobs.

Charlene had been sleeping rough for more than a year until she found a place to stay through the emergency hub. She had lost contact with her family after developing a serious addiction to legal highs and quickly ended up living on the streets.

Watch Charlene move into her new accommodation:

But charities are warning that it's becoming increasingly difficult for people like Charlene to get off the streets.

Local charity 'The Vine' was one of the organisations involved in the emergency hub and have regular contact with Anthony and Charlene.

They say that a lack of beds, as well as less funding for alcohol and drug services, is leading to more homeless people being left stranded on the streets and could be behind the sharp rise in rough sleeping. It's a problem shared across the south of England.

Rushmoor Borough Council agree that there is a lack of temporary shelter in Aldershot and say the emergency 'hub' was part of ongoing efforts to deal with the problem.

Anthony has now moved on from the car park, but is still homeless and that puts him at risk. The average life expectancy of a rough sleeper is just 47 years old. So as the winter months approach, finding more beds for people living on the streets will be key to saving lives.

47yrs
Average life expectancy of a rough sleeper

Watch Sam Holder's full report below:

Rushmoor Borough Council told us it has been working with voluntary and statutory agencies - to improve provision for homeless people with 'high support' needs in Aldershot and the surrounding area.

For a look at the problem on a wider scale - earlier ITV Meridian spoke to Hannah Gousy. She is senior policy advisor at the Homeless charity crisis.