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  1. ITV Report

Charity offers an "Open Door" for homeless people

Homeless people in Cheltenham are treated to a Christmas dinner Credit: ITV News

While the rest of us will soon see in the New Year, there will be thousands of homeless people who have little to celebrate.

They have to rely on the goodwill of others to find a hot meal and a bed for the night.

This year, one charity says that the number of people needing their help has increased.

Derek Doggett in the queue for some festive cheer Credit: ITV News

Derek Doggett has lived on the streets for the best part of a decade. He lives in a tent. For the last 18 years he says he has spent about ten of them on the streets.

It's a lifestyle he has chosen but on Christmas Day with nowhere to go, he was given a bed and a hot meal by the town's Open Door charity.

On New Year's Day he will be left to his own devices.

How will you bring in the new year? On my own, very quietly.

In a tent? Yes. Probably fast asleep when new year comes over.

– Derek Doggett
Open Door's Christmas Day dinner is so popular that the charity had to move to a bigger hall Credit: ITV News

The charity works all year round, but there's such a demand over Christmas that they decamp to a large church hall. Volunteers help out.

Absolutely amazing. I take my hat off to all our volunteers today, so it is lovely to be part of this to make a difference.

– Chris Ryder, Mayor of Cheltenham
Andy Ellaway says helping out is his way of giving something back Credit: ITV News

Andy Ellaway cooked the Christmas dinner - he was homeless himself. Now he helps other homeless people.

When they realised I could actually cook properly, they gave me a job and built my self esteem back up. So now I give something back.

– Andy Ellaway, Chef
Open Door gives out warm clothes and bedding as well as a Christmas meal Credit: ITV News

As well as tucking into a roast dinner, the homeless visitors can help themselves to mattresses, bedding and donated clothing. If you live rough, you need to keep warm.

The Open Door charity says more people than ever are needing help, and that number could increase even further in the new year.

"I have done this job for 20 years and I can definitely say the numbers are up this year. I think we have had a lot of changes in the government's system on benefits, and a lot of them haven't had the support they needed due to lack of staffing and lack of funding."

– SARA READER, Cheltenham Open Door