A charity homeless shelter that at full capacity last year in Dartford has been awarded thousands of pounds for more staff.

Dartford Churches Winter Shelter is now operating in its fifth year, but the council has for the first time agreed to meet costs.

Last year, News Shopper reported that the shelter was fully booked, working with approximately 50 different rough sleepers over eight weeks.

The shelter, which previously ran on donations, opened its doors on January 2 and will move between seven different churches until March 31.

Council Leader Jeremy Kite said: "The Council does more than some might realise to tackle homelessness right through the year but winter is obviously a challenging time for rough sleepers. We have a long- standing and successful partnership with homelessness charity Porchlight to support those in crisis and I am delighted to confirm that the council is now to supplement that by meeting the day-to-day running costs of the Dartford Churches Winter Shelter.

"The aim is to provide yet another bridge between rough sleeping and a longer term solution for those in need."

It was recently revealed that Dartford has the worst rate for homelessness in Kent, working out to mean that one in every 164 people are affected by Homelessness.

In a report by leading homeless charity Shelter, it was estimated that in Dartford there are nine rough sleepers and 642 total homeless people.

The extra money will mean that the Shelter can employ project workers to help the homelessness.

Dartford Churches Winter Shelter organiser John Atkins said: "In previous years we have funded the shelter entirely from generous donations and contributions from local churches so the news that Dartford Borough Council is to meet the cost could not be more welcome.

"It will lift the financial pressure and allow us to focus on providing more advice and support to guests. Helping people in homeless crisis works best in partnership and we're proud of the way everyone - churches, volunteers, the council, charities and agencies have come together to support our work. We are very grateful for the council's contribution and confidence."

The Winter Shelter has the capacity for 12 rough sleepers - but had a full waiting list last year.

Councillor Jonathon Hawkes, leader of Dartford Labour, said there could still be more done to tackle homelessness in Dartford

Cllr Hawkes said: "The council have responded after the true extent of the homelessness crisis in our town was revealed this year. Labour, together with homelessness organisations have been campaigning for action to be taken, so it's good to see the council provide this funding in response. While the funding is very welcome news for the Winter Shelter, it's not an answer to rising homelessness in our town.

"We need to see more homes for available for social rent and more genuinely affordable homes included in new developments in Dartford."