PURBECK has the fourth highest levels of homelessness in the South West, a housing charity has found.

New analysis of the region’s housing crisis by Shelter has revealed the top five hotspots for homelessness, which not only includes sleeping on the streets but also living in temporary accommodation such as hostels and B&Bs.

In Purbeck, one in 355 people are homeless - the highest rate in Dorset. Although there is just one rough sleeper in the area, according to the most recent figures, there are 131 people in temporary accommodation.

Christchurch has the sixth highest levels of homelessness in the South West, according to Shelter, followed by Bournemouth and Poole.

Bournemouth has the highest number of rough sleepers at 48, whereas Poole has 35 and Christchurch has five.

However, 120 people in Christchurch are living in temporary accommodation, meaning one in 398 people in the population are homeless.

In Bournemouth, one in 422 are homeless and in Poole it is one in 449.

Shelter has launched an urgent appeal calling on the public to support its frontline advisers as they work to help the growing number of people trying to find or keep their home.

In its annual landmark review, the charity combined official rough-sleeping, temporary accommodation and social services figures.

As these records are not definitive, the true figure of homelessness is likely even higher Shelter says.

Overall, almost 320,000 people in Britain are now homeless - an increase of 13,000 people since last year.

Shelter warns this is due to a combination unaffordable rents, frozen housing benefits and a severe shortage of social housing. 

Penny Walster, of Shelter, said: “It’s unforgivable that thousands of people in the South West have been swept up by the housing crisis and now have no place to call home. These new figures show that homelessness is having a devastating impact on the lives of people right across the region.”  

She added: “Due to the perfect storm of spiralling rents, welfare cuts and a total lack of social housing, record numbers of people are sleeping out on the streets or stuck in the cramped confines of a hostel room. We desperately need action now to change tomorrow for the hundreds of thousands whose lives will be blighted by homelessness this winter.  

“Shelter’s services have never been more needed. That’s why we’re asking the public to support us this winter so that we can answer as many calls as possible and have trained advisers on hand when people need them most.”