FORTY people in Weymouth had no homes to go to this Christmas and charities warn homeless numbers are rising every week.

As the New Year dawns the number of people sleeping rough in Weymouth and Portland and across the county has almost doubled since last year.

Wendy Selway, a volunteer with local charity Soul Food, said: “The numbers are definitely rising and a lot more people are out on the streets.

“The numbers are creeping up at the moment – we get more and more people coming to us each week.”

The number of households accepted as homeless in Dorset at the end of 2010 was 32 and currently it is more than 56, according to figures from homeless charity Shelter.

Homeless Jade Jones said: “I’ve been homeless for about five years and over Christmas it’s not nice at all – it’s really cold at night.

“People need to know what it’s like out here because it’s a nightmare.

“I sleep on the streets, sometimes I sleep in public toilets which is better because you can lock yourself in one of the stalls.

The 33-year-old added: “I rely on charities, otherwise I would be begging in town.

“I’m doing as much as I can, going to all the groups but it’s so hard.”

Andy, 42, said: “Without the help of these charities a lot of people just wouldn’t be here, it really is a lifeline.

“Their work is amazing. There’s no way homeless people like me would get through a winter without it.

“I had a house, a mortgage and a family but I’m stuck on my own and it’s such an awful feeling just knowing you have nothing.”

He added: “It’s easy to turn to drink and drugs when you have the excuse that you’re cold and the only way to sleep is to knock yourself out.

“Most people see a homeless person and think they’re just a social outcast, but this could happen to anyone.

“All I want is the opportunity to pay my rent and earn my own way, not just for me but for the sake of my two children.”

Both Jade and Andy were able to get a hot meal and some company on Christmas Day thanks the volunteers at Soul Food.

Dianne Hencher, an advice services manager at the Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “It’s a really difficult time of year for lots of our clients and we see people going out shopping who can’t afford to do it.

“We have seen a rise in people with problems with money who get evicted from houses because they can’t pay rent.”