IF you’ve visited Exeter recently, you will almost certainly have noticed the increased numbers of rough sleepers in the city. 

According to a recent report from Shelter, 3,700 people were deemed homeless last year in Devon and Cornwall.

The cost-of-living crisis is much to blame and impending budget cuts to homelessness prevention schemes are likely to worsen the situation.

It is for these reasons that the Devon County Agricultural Association has selected the Amber Foundation as it’s charity of the year for 2023.

Operating from centres in Devon, Wiltshire, Surrey and Kent the Amber Foundation offers a supported housing environment for individuals aged between 16 and 30.

The charity's approach is not just about training and support to address specific personal issues but it’s also about the introduction of new experiences and opportunities that raise aspiration and challenge residents to take responsibility for their lives and move forward positively.

Based around a model of "dreams and desires", Amber seeks to provide each individual with a bespoke, practical programme of activities that builds their skills and qualifications, develops their resilience and purpose, improves their confidence and wellbeing and focuses firmly on their strengths and interests.

Rebecca Fry, Fundraising Manager at Amber Foundation in Devon said: "Rough sleeping is only the tip of the iceberg.

"For everyone we see huddled in a doorway or sleeping in a tent there are hundreds more living in temporary accommodation. 

"In addition to this there are other forms of homelessness - sofa surfing or people living in vehicles. This type of homelessness is often entirely undocumented.

"Ultimately the aim of the Amber Foundation is to help as many young people as possible move on to sustainable work, a secure home and a fulfilling future, in which they never have to face homelessness again.

"Young people who come to Amber share their home with a community of around 30 others. The average stay is six to nine months but there is no fixed limit. We have clearly enforced rules and a tight structure to the week at Amber but it’s also a fun and caring place to be – a temporary home that offers time, space, support and encouragement – basically everything a young person needs to turn their life around."

To find out more about the Amber Foundation’s work in Devon, please visit their stand (212) at the Devon County Show next week.

Volunteer collectors will be at the County Show on all three days (May 18-20) and all attending are invited to dig deep in their pockets and make sure they take along plenty of loose change.