Scandal of Greater Manchester’s hidden homeless forced to seek shelter in caves



12 Jun 2013 14:13

Parts of the area have seen a surge in people unable to put a roof over their heads, according to new government figures.

‘KP’ has been sleeping in a cave – a situation a homeless charity says is not uncommon
‘KP’ has been sleeping in a cave – a situation a homeless charity says is not uncommon
Paul Heyes

Homeless people are being forced to live in CAVES – as destitution spirals across the region.

Parts of Greater Manchester have seen a surge in people unable to put a roof over their heads, according to new government figures.

The worst hit area is Stockport – with a 42pc increase in just one year – although Trafford and Rochdale are not far behind on around 40pc.

Stockport’s main homeless charity says it has seen demand double since 2010.

Now an M.E.N. investigation has discovered Stockport’s hidden homeless are using a network of sandstone caves near the town centre.

Up to four people at a time have been sleeping rough in the secret warren – perched on a 20ft precipice overhanging the Mersey – just yards from public view. 

The caves are currently being used by a homeless Estonian man, who arrived a few weeks ago from the West Midlands. But local shelter the Wellspring say they have been used by many others with nowhere else to go.

The charity’s project manager, Jonathan Billings, says the number of people turning up each day for support has soared from around 60 or 70 to around 140 in the last three years.


Jonathan Billings from the Wellsprings homeless charity
Paul Heyes 

There has been a particular surge in more middle class, affluent people who worked for years only to suddenly lose everything in the downturn, he said.

Meanwhile there has also been a marked rise in the number of homeless Eastern Europeans.

The M.E.N is not revealing his identity – or the exact location of the cave – in order to protect its current occupant.

Jonathan said: “Unfortunately when people are sleeping rough they will come to very dangerous places. I know of people who have fallen into the river. Sometimes kids come down and set fire to their sleeping bags when they’re in them.

“But if it wasn’t there, it would be somewhere else. I think readers would be surprised by the extent of it – people are hidden away from the public eye.

“I don’t think politicians are aware of the scale of the problem.

“We have got to pull together to help people, whatever their situation. Nobody wants to see people living in a cave.”

Stockport council leader Sue Derbyshire said she had no idea people were living in caves – or even that the caves were there.

But she added: “I do know we have people going out looking for rough sleepers, who are very good at getting people off the streets and into temporary accommodation.”

Jennifer Williams finds her way to a hidden ‘home’ perched over the Mersey which is dry and safe… but not much else: 

Caves in Stockport where Estonian “KP” is currently living 

Pushing through the hawthorn and squeezing – just about – through a gap in the railings, I congratulate myself on remembering to wear flat shoes.

Ahead of me lies a precarious 50 yard walk – or stumble – to enter the secret world of the modern day cave-dweller.

“Imagine making this journey in the dark, drunk or on drugs,” says my guide Jonathan.

I would rather not. Edging along carefully, the fast-running Mersey swirling dangerously below, my trip is a health and safety nightmare. But therein – at least partly – must lie the appeal. Because despite being a stone’s throw from civilisation, few people would have any real clue that this warren of strange stone hollows exists – and even then would struggle to reach it.

Despite being littered with half-empty tins of rotting food, condom wrappers and dirty clothing, it has two things in its favour.

It is dry. And thanks to its location, it is relatively safe.

Nevertheless as KP – the Estonian man currently living here – tells me in broken English, it is cold. “It is not good,” he adds, as he roots through the mounds of rubbish around his camp bed. It is something of an understatement.

Back at Stockport’s homeless shelter, the Wellspring, Jonathan points to four or five people included in a memorial display at its entrance. They have all lived in the caves at some point, he says.

“Drugs, drink, or drink and drugs,” he adds, listing what killed each of them.

None have so far lost their lives to that steep fall down to the Mersey. But as the numbers of homeless steadily rises, that could only be a matter of time. 



20 thoughts on “Scandal of Greater Manchester’s hidden homeless forced to seek shelter in caves

  1. Prola Tariat says:

    There should be a National list of cave sites,given to all homeless people, so at least they can have some sort of shelter,not so bad now that its Summertime. May e-mail Mr Cameron regarding this matter.

  2. Anne Selby says:

    So basically we have devolved then. We started out as a species living in caves a million years ago. Then we found out how to make rough ‘tents’ which got better and better until we all lived in houses, some hovels, some mansions and some just ordinary houses. This government is forcing the people back to the days of the cave man.

  3. jeffrey davies says:

    its just the start of things to come just that theyl fill up with more peoples who loss out to bedtax and benefit sanctions yes theres going to be loads more to fill them torys going for it perhaps when the bankers pick up those fancy bonuses theyl think of those in the caves nah theyl just go out and buy that fast car without a thought while you suffer for their sins jeff3


    This is the tip of the iceberg as the welfare cuts start to kick in.
    Its our summer at present, what will happen to these poor souls as the bad weather descends upon us.
    I have not dared to light our gas fire for four years,instead we sit around draped in fleece jackets.
    I consider myself very fortunate when i read horrors like these about cave dwellers.

    Soon Broken Britain will resemble “Gin Lane” from one of Hogarth’s prints, crime figures will rocket and curfews will ensue.
    Police will be armed as the gang culture spirals out of control and death will ensure the undertakers are in full time employment.
    Fences will be erected around prestige housing to minimise ransacking and shops will be guarded.
    Skirmishes will be commonplace and Hospitals will not be able to cope.
    Assassinations will rock the political world and the media will be plunged into darkness as their prestigious empires are devastated.
    Prominent figures will flee abroad as the fires rage on the barricaded streets. No music, just occasional gunshots and explosions……………

    Calm will eventually return as the “New Order” attempt to lay the foundation of a new society where all people are treated with dignity………………………..

    You can only kick a dog for so long……….

    1. jeffrey davies says:

      ps who gets that lovely loollie left over from the frenchmans whose just a face to it all yep he had 1.8 then another now at 1.9 but were do all those millions go to who tb gb or the other rotten lot of party members but some one gets those billions being made from this atos


    Don’t hold your breath, the arseholes will be probably be considering a “Troglodyte Amendment Act”.

    The aforesaid act will have a dire effect on caves with spare bedrooms, water and stalagmites, pole tax (where a pole has been used to secure the roof of the cave).

    In return the government will supply grants for insulation and solar panels…….

    The walls of the caves will be adorned with beautiful drawings of politicians and the the DWP attacking the poor and disabled, a history of the “Brass Age” where everyone struggled to have any………

  6. Nigel says:

    ED Balls blew thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ cash on posh dinners and wine while running education .The former Schools Secretary and his team spent £1,663 on an Italian meal out, eight days after splurging £1,000 at a swish Indian next to their department. And £2,776 went on four bulk orders from Majestic Wine listed as “ministerial hospitality” from June 2009 to March 2010 .
    Nick Clegg has been plunged into the ‘cash for honours’ row as two of the Liberal Democrats’ biggest donors are lined up for peerages. Rumi Verjee, the multimillionaire who brought the Domino’s pizza chain to Britain, has donated £770,000 since May 2010. Sudhir Choudhrie, whose family has donated £650,000 to the party since 2004, is also on the party’s honours list. And we thought Cameron’s cohorts were the main culprits for having their noses in the trough .The Whole System is Corrupt and needs a thorough Disinfecting .

  7. Humanity2012 says:

    At Least with Caves there Might Not be such a Diabolical Poxy
    Static Wait for Something so Basic as Housing

    Shame upon the Selfish Brainwashed and Zombielike British
    Public at Large for Allowing such a State of Affaira

    The Not so Great British Public with their TV Addiction Alcoholism
    Amorality and Selfishness are as Much to Blame as the Boneheaded Bureaupratts and the Ignorant Ivory Tower Politicians

    It Really is Difficult to Know who to be More Angry with the
    Bureaupratts & Politician Pratts or the Selfish Zombie British
    Public at Large


    What an unbelievable embarrassment to our caring government….

    I have just witnessed something you should not see in the seventh richest country….

    An appeal by Paul O’grady on behalf of one of the worlds most distinguished charities to donate money to help children in poverty in the UNITED KINGDOM…………

    We all recognise what is happening but this event should shame the evil bastards in power…….

    I hope the same appeal is broadcast all over Europe…..

    Sadly, the only thing Great in Britain is the rift between rich and poor and the amount of poverty being dished out with the blessing of the Queen….

    Thank you, your Majesty!

    p.s. They won’t eat cake, many are living on toast…..

  9. PAULA says:


  10. Serenity says:

    Councils are now removing bands D and in some cases C from the housing list as they have no hope of ever being housed, some people have been on those lists for over 15yrs, just to be wiped from the list overnight, A fiddle on the numbers waiting no doubt so they can pretend the housing crisis isn’t as bad as it is.

  11. Mac Preston says:

    I wonder how many homes lost have been taken up by new tenants? This has only served to increase the cost of rent of smaller homes for everyone else.

  12. Dean Repair says:

    This is down to the bedroom tax and the policies around ESA benefits that no longer allow people with unmanageable lifestyles to claim as sick, so people that are unwell because of addiction are deemed as fit to work

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