Published: 06:00, 10 October 2019
| Updated: 13:01, 10 October 2019
A pub landlord who became homeless at just 15 has lent his support to a campaign to raise awareness of rough sleeping.
General manager Jonathan Woodger's The Drapers Arms is among 40 businesses in Canterbury turning their shop fronts purple today to raise awareness on World Homeless Day.
City turns purple for World Homeless Day
Porchlight have collaborated with business owners across as a reminder of the people who are struggling each day on the streets.
Shops have hung up bunting and used the charity's colour to decorate items in their shop front windows.
Now 30, Mr Woodger was keen to support the cause after being helped by Porchlight years before.
He said: "As a young person going into that sort of environment, I didn't realise how widespread and how much of a big problem it actually is."
He was helped by Porchlight's street team and was given accommodation at a hostel on Newtown Street.
He added: "I owe quite a lot of my progression in life to the staff and the support I got during my time with Porchlight, so any time an opportunity comes up for me to give a bit back, I like to get involved."
Statistics published today by Kent Homeless Connect have revealed the stark reality of homelessness in the county.
Homeless charities are aware of more than 400 people who have slept rough on the streets in the past six months.
More than 550 people are also said to be at risk of being homeless.
It is also believed nearly 250 people have been forced to sofa-surf in the past six months.
Chris Coffey, operations director of Porchlight, wants to make people aware that hidden homelessness such as sofa surfing can be just as devastating as sleeping on the streets.
He said: "Rough sleeping, we've always said, is the tip of the homelessness iceberg - it's a small number of people that are visible.
"And absolutely, we need to do something about that. But homelessness is much bigger and broader than that.
"Lots of people are in insecure accommodation, lots of people are at risk of losing their homes, and we're there to support them."
Hidden homelessness includes people being forced to live with family members or friends and living in squats or other insecure accommodation.
In July, Porchlight teamed up with The Beaney Museum and Gallery for The Portrait of Homelessness exhibition.
Photographer Robert Greshoff took photographs of people who had experienced homelessness as a reminder of the human lives behind rough sleeping statistics.
Latest statistics by the charity Shelter suggested there are 320,000 people experiencing homelessness throughout the UK and earlier this year it was revealed Canterbury has the fifth highest rate of homeless deaths in England.
More by this authorOliver Kemp