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Jeremy Corbyn Christmas message criticises 'shocking rise in homelessness'

Jeremy Corbyn has criticised the "shocking rise in homelessness" in his first Christmas message as Labour leader, warning it can be a time of "increased loneliness and despair".

He said absolutely no-one should be on the streets over the festive season, as he paid tribute to "the goodwill and generosity of ordinary people, public service and charity workers".

Mr Corbyn also warned about the pressure on families worrying how they will get through Christmas, as well as lonely pensioners and those going without care.

Last year Mr Corbyn broke with tradition by not issuing a message on Christmas Eve, instead saving his thoughts for the New Year.

This year he has resumed issuing the message the day before Christmas, putting homelessness at its heart.

Mr Corbyn said: "It's a time of year where many of us get time off, where we spend time with our family and our loved ones.

"But for others, it's a time of increased loneliness and despair.

"On the streets of our cities and towns there has been a shocking rise in homelessness."

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Mr Corbyn pointed to a recent visit to housing charity Centrepoint, which he said does "vital work" getting young people off the streets.

He added: "But the fact is, in the sixth richest country in the world, no-one should be on the streets in the first place.

"But Shelter say that 120,000 children will spend this Christmas without a home to call their own.

"And it's not just the most vulnerable who are struggling to get by. Mums and dads shouldn't worry about how they'll get through Christmas.

"It shouldn't be a time when pensioners go lonely and, worse, without care.

"And no-one - absolutely no one - should be homeless this Christmas."

Mr Corbyn said rough sleeping increased by 30% over the past year, and that Labour would "effectively end rough sleeping within our first term in government."

He added: "At this time of year people give up their time and donate, like the Centrepoint volunteers, despite the strain in their own lives.

"It's the goodwill and generosity of ordinary people, public service and charity workers who give tirelessly to help the most vulnerable and the lonely.

"They remind us of Christmas values: love for your neighbour, working together and hope, hope that things can be different.

"These are Labour values, my values and our values. They are values that remind us that together we can, and will change our country for the better.

"Enjoy your time with loved ones and Happy Christmas."

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