Charity offers homeless people free breakfast as it seeks their views on its future

Some homeless people end up sleeping in tents because of difficulties finding housing. Picture: Jame

Some homeless people end up sleeping in tents because of difficulties finding housing. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Evening News ©2004

Homelessness is sometimes seen as an issue confined to urban areas like Norwich, King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth - but a housing charity is keen to expand because of increasing problems in more rural areas.

And housing charity Solo Housing is inviting homeless people and those at risk of homelessness to join them for a free breakfast while they chat to them about how to shape services in South Norfolk and Breckland.

According to government statistics, there are currently 601 people in Norfolk known to be homeless.

But the Diss-based charity says the number of hidden homeless people 'sofa-surfing' or sleeping in cars is far greater.

Charity bosses say they are contacted by more than 20 people each month, who are in need of accommodation and support.

The charity, which helps single people to get and keep accommodation, recently secured almost £17,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund and the Enterprise Development Programme.

It is using that money to launch a consultation on how to improve the services it offers and to develop the Old Post Office site in Diss.

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Carolyn Howell, MBE, chief executive of Solo Housing, said: "Our plan is to develop our site and services to meet the needs of single homeless people - many of whom currently sleep in tents, cars, sofa surf or are in temporary accommodation.

"While living in these situations, it's a matter of surviving from day to day and it's very hard to overcome other issues or plan for a positive future.

"We aim to find out what needs people have and how we can meet them to help them focus on steps they would like to take towards longer term stability.

"Information from potential and existing service users is essential in planning how to meet needs in our community."

The charity has been running a survey, but will also hold a free breakfast event at Hope Church in Vinces Road, in Diss, from 10am until 1pm on Friday (June 14).

Homeless people in rural areas who are unable to travel are being offered assistance in getting there.

Further consultation events will be held before final plans for the Old Post Office site are developed.

- People can contact Solo Housing on 0800 652 0155 or visit their offices at 12a St Nicholas Street in Diss.