It's difficult to find out how many people in the UK are homeless and that's one useful piece of information the census won't reveal of course. The government statistics estimate about 99,500 households were newly homeless in 2007 but the trouble is that only 'official' homeless people are counted in government statistics, i.e those who make a declaration and are eligable to apply for accommodation.
The charity 'Crisis' talks about an estimated 400,000 'hidden homeless' who haven't been allocated housing. It's probably pretty well known now that many of these are youngsters who feel unable to stay on in abusive households, people who come out of institutions, hospitals, foster homes, casualties of relationship breakdowns, home repossessions, mental health problems, drug and alcohol dependencies, etc. And there are also people who simply choose to live in freedom outside without the traps and trappings of modern life.
Why am I talking about this now? It's because I was out walking the other afternoon and came across no less than six separate shelters (some tents, others made from palettes, branches and tarps). Each discretely tucked away among trees and bushes. It made me realise that there must be thousands of people living like this all across the country. For people who aren't there by choice, I feel very sad. But I'm also glad that those looking to live differently can still build themselves a shelter and survive.