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Homeless charity sees big increase in rough sleepers

A homeless charity in Exeter says it's seen a big increase in the number of rough sleepers in the city this year.

On Christmas Day St Petrocks will be providing a full Christmas lunch for those who might otherwise be missing out on a hot meal and some home comforts.

We first filmed with Kevin in the Winter of 2014 - he'd been sleeping rough in Exeter and was dreading the loneliness that goes along with being homeless at Christmas.

Two years on, with help and support from the charity St Petrocks, he's hoping he's on the verge of moving into his own place.

Some good news this Christmas, a time which can be very tough to deal with.

It's just grim. It's in your face all the time isn't it. Christmas has been going since November now hasn't it - it's been in the shops since November.

If you're on the High Street all the time you're seeing people spending, enjoying it, and you're not in that social spectrum, you miss out.

It drives it home to you really so thank god for places like this.

– Kevin, former rough sleeper

On Christmas Day St Petrocks is open, providing a proper Christmas lunch for 50 or 60 homeless people, with the help of a team of volunteers.

Generally when people are here, they know that we're really here to help them and I think they really appreciate it.

There's usually a really good atmosphere, we put some music on. Everyone's in pretty good spirits.

– Laura Nesbitt, Volunteer

This year the charity has noticed there's been a big increase in the number of homeless people in Exeter - particularly rough sleepers.

It's been gradually creeping up over the past six months, partly the charity says, because of cuts in services and changes to the benefits system.

Kevin says the helps means a great deal for the homeless population.

The centre will be open on Boxing Day too and when Christmas is over, and the tinsel comes down, it will continue to offer a safe place for the city's homeless people.