Still no room at the inn

ON A day like today the appalling plight of those without a roof over their heads is thrown into sharp focus.

ON A day like today the appalling plight of those without a roof over their heads is thrown into sharp focus.

When those affected are vulnerable teenagers the situation is even more tragic - and it seems extraordinary that there is a six-month waiting list for a bed in a hostel.

As Suffolk saw its first real snow of the winter, their plight will have sent a shiver down the spine of people across the area

Most teenagers do live within loving families - but for the minority who do not enjoy those comforts life can be very hard.

Tonight's disturbing story about Jade and Kylie is a cautionary tale for our time. It is terrifying that there are still teenagers living like this in the town which saw five young women killed at the end of last year.

It is totally unacceptable for society in 2007 that we have teenagers sleeping rough in the town's parks in the middle of winter.

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If there is a waiting list of up to six months for youngsters needed somewhere to sleep at night is that really acceptable to us?

The story of there being no room at the inn is one that has struck a chord with generations through the centuries. It is sad that is still the situation for some young people during the first years of the third millennium.

No one can claim to have been caught unawares by today's snow - forecasters had been warning us about this since last weekend and we have had plenty of time to prepare for the disruption.

But while it gives the area a new look, it is hardly a blanket bringing normal life to a halt.

That is, of course, unless you are from a school. It still seems extraordinary that so many schools in Ipswich have had to close because of the weather.

Within the town it is not difficult for pupils to get in. Most live within walking distance - and even those who do have to travel across town found the buses running and the main roads reasonably clear.

The problem is, of course, that so many members of staff live some distance away - and found their routes from Norfolk or Essex difficult to negotiate (although Suffolk police have told us of no road closures).

The schools must have known the snow was coming - everyone else has been talking about it for days - so why did staff not take precautions to ensure they could get in.

When schools do not open, not only does it disrupt children's education, it also causes problems for parents who may have to take a day off work at short notice.

Next time snow is forecast, schools should do everything they can to open as normal - most other organisations managed to open their doors today.

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