'Tip of the iceberg' for Ipswich homeless charity as cost of living bites

Homeless person with Jools Ramsey on right hand side

Jools Ramsey said a number of people coming to ihAg for help are talking "specifically about a risk of becoming homeless" - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images/Andrew Papworth

An Ipswich homeless charity chief has said "we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg" as the cost of living continues to bite.

Ipswich Housing Action Group (ihAg) has found a total of 339 people, including some who have been counted twice, sleeping on the streets in the town since the start of the year. 

Jools Ramsey is the chief executive officer and said this was only the number the team physically found. 

She said: "We know there are more people that are homeless in Ipswich than we see day-to-day."

"We are seeing an increase in the number of people who are coming to our services for help and support.

"A number of them are coming for the very first time and many are talking specifically about a risk of becoming homeless."

A report from Amnesty International this month found nearly one in three adults are worried about becoming homeless in the next five years as a result of rising housing costs.

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ihAg welcomes anyone at risk of homelessness and offers financial advice for those who need it.

"Many are having to choose between paying rent or putting food on the table", said Jools.

"It's going to be an incredibly difficult time.

"I'm afraid we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg."

Part of ihAg's responsibilities includes providing vital services to those they find and "to let them know there is a service that can help them."

"Once we've reached out to them, we can them connect them to other services they may need", said Jools. 

With increasing bills and the energy price rises scheduled for October, many are concerned about those potentially being on the street during the colder months of winter. 

"Things are going to get worse", said Jools. 

Photo of model houses on a pile of coins and bank notes.

Increasing bills are raising concerns about people being on the street during the colder months of winter - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

"At the moment, not many people have their heating on. But come the winter, there are going to be people in real trouble who have to make some really challenging decisions.

"Covid showed this could happen to anyone and it's so important to be prepared for any change in circumstance."

Looking ahead, the charity is prepared for an increase in the number of people seeking their help. 

Their outreach workers, advisers and other professionals are on hand to deliver support for those who need it most.

"There's never any shame in reaching out", said Jools.

"It's crucial to remember there is always support out there for anyone who might need it."