Sir: Homeless people and beggars are not necessarily synonymous ("Hey Jimmy: heard about the minister who thinks most beggars are Scots?",11 January). However, those homeless people using our Cold Weather Shelter last week were as follows: almost 80 per cent were male, with the same percentage having slept rough on the night before moving in. Almost one in five was aged over 50, with the predominant group in their mid-thirties. More than a quarter were "local". Scots represented only 6 per cent (the same percentage as Asian and Irish), less than both Black British and European.
These statistics are freely available from agencies working with homeless people. Indeed the Cold Weather Shelters are government-funded, so by implication it is the Government which assists us in keeping the details. It is a pity therefore that Government ministers cannot quote facts.
CHERYL ST CLAIR
Director, Providence Row
The above three letters appeared in the first edition of yesterday's 'Independent'