Clare BrockieClare Brockie, Project manager for Carlisle Key, a charity for the homeless:  The latest homeless figures from the government show there has been a rise in people sleeping rough in general in the UK.

In February, we helped 97 people and a third of them were homeless.

The main reason is family breakdown and rent arrears.

It could get worse as the waiting period for Universal Credit is seven weeks or more.

They need a facility aimed towards them that provides emergency accommodation for up to 28 days.

We need something targetted for younger people, otherwise they can come into contact with people who have been using drugs or been alcoholic for years.

They also need to get one-to-one support.

A lot struggle with mental health problems. A referral can take six to eight weeks and during that time their condition can get worse.

Finding a job is difficult as most people we see are not in education, employment or training.

We have been working with Gen2 on traineeships and Carlisle College, we are also working with Carlisle Ambassadors to get businessmen and women to mentor young people.

Tracey Noble Tracey Noble, youth work development manager, Wigton Youth Station:  I think it’s definitely a problem. There’s a lack of social housing and a lack of support for homeless people in this area.

And the bedroom tax is part of it. It is affecting a lot of families as well as young people.

There are very few one-bedroom flats, especially in Wigton. If there’s no alternative property what are they supposed to do?

Some young people have to leave home because they have no alternative. They could be suffering abuse at home, or they could be coming out of the care system. Where’s the support for them?

There needs to be more help from housing associations, and more affordable properties to rent. People seem to assume homelessness is a problem for big cities and don’t realise that it’s just as much of a problem in rural areas.

It’s because it’s expected in cities so people are oblivious or ignorant of the fact that it’s happening here as well.

It’s more hidden here so people take it for granted that it’s not a problem. There are people who have stayed out one night to raise awareness of homelessness. But you can never imagine from one night what it must be like forever.

Mark Sellers Major Mark Sellers, Carlisle Salvation Army:  There has been a bit of an increase in Carlisle. That could be the result of the loss of hostels which were flooded, but in general there is probably more homelessness.

We run a breakfast twice a week as part of Churches Together, and there are more rough sleepers turning up. I’m seeing about one person a week who comes to us homeless.

So it’s not a great picture. Local authorities have a responsibility for homeless provision but they are facing cuts all the time and a lot of funding for support services is disappearing.

It is often charitable organisations who run them but they have relied on Government money and once that goes they are struggling.

Going forward we could be in for a period of increased homelessness. It’s politically easy to cut this kind of money because of the perception that if someone is homeless it’s their own fault.

But there is a whole range of people are on the streets, for a whole range of reasons. There are organisations that are taking on volunteers because the money is not there to pay staff.

In some places the Salvation Army has set up night shelters run by volunteers.

Kerry Maxwell Kerry Maxwell, chief executive, Whitehaven Community Trust:  The situation for us is roughly the same as it was last year, though there are a lot more care leavers coming through, young people who may have been in foster care.

It is difficult for 16 and 17-year-olds to find a place and the bedroom tax has made it much more difficult to find one-bedroomed accommodation.

The complex needs of a young person have increased.

Drugs are more prevalent which has a knock-on effect on their behaviour, which becomes harder to manage.

Something needs to be in place to stop that before it starts.

These are people who don’t engage with school or the education system, they need something more tailored to empower them to say ‘no’ to certain things before they become homeless at 16 and 17.

There is also still a culture that is benefit dependent and to break that cycle is very difficult.

The Lakes College and Inspira are doing their best to lift aspirations.

There is not one thing that can be done. It has to be a multi-agency approach to get it to work for that person.

They are not the easiest client group to work with, but the rewards are there.