"A recent report from the Public Accounts Committee found that there were now around 9,000 people sleeping rough and 78,000 families stuck in temporary accommodation"

The man who wakes up at 4am every day to feed the homeless

Stan Robertson, 50, had a tough childhood. At the age of eight, he ran away from home and spent weeks sleeping under bridges. Found on the streets of London, he was returned home only to run away again shortly after. Having been placed in care, he spent many of his teenage years on the streets or bedding down in squats.

Now, he is happily married and lives with his wife and children in Northampton. And he's decided to give something back to the people who are in the same situation that he was once in.

Every morning, Stan gets up at 4am to begin cooking eggs, bacon and sausages to take out to people sleeping rough in the town.

"I aim to be in town for 6am and home again at 7.30 so I can do the school run," he says.

Project 16:15 Homeless Breakfast Delivery started just a few weeks ago but it is growing rapidly. Stan says that last week he saw new faces every day. On Christmas morning, with the help of volunteers, he took over the market square and fed 30 rough sleepers.

"Breakfast is vital," he says. "If you see someone first thing in the morning and take them a cup of tea, you're telling them that they matter. It's an important gesture to make. It's more than just food.

"I've been given a street name now, they call me The Chef. That's a title I'm proud of."

But he says he wishes he could help more.

"Some of the stories I hear are just awful. One woman told me she is being pimped out to other homeless people. She has begged me to help her but I don't know how."

He says that the streets are dangerous for all those sleeping rough, but particularly so for women.

"The local night shelter doesn't take women and the women's refuges are often full so there's very little support for them. They often tell me about the men that try to climb in their sleeping bags at night."

Stan starts each morning by walking along the main street in the town centre, stopping at the shop doorways where people are sleeping. He then heads out to what he calls the 'tent community', those who pitch up tents on small patches of grass and in graveyards.

"When I first started going out, lots of the people thought I was there to move them on because that's what they are used to. But they trust me now, when I kept going back they realised that I'd kept my word."

Since 2010 rough sleeping in England has soared. A recent report from the Public Accounts Committee found that there were now around 9,000 people sleeping rough and 78,000 families stuck in temporary accommodation. 

"It's a massive problem," he says. "When you go out at that time in the morning you see another life, scenes that you would never normally see at any other time of day.

"I see people waking up with tears in their eyes just at the thought of another day."

Stan would eventually like to run a 24 hour cafe where he can prepare the food and provide a place of shelter at any time of the day.

"It would take a lot of money but that's what I'd like to do. It would be a base to make the breakfasts from and a place where people could just come by for a chat and a cup of tea."

Natalie Bloomer is a journalist for Politics.co.uk. You can follow her on twitter here.

The opinions in politics.co.uk's Comment and Analysis section are those of the author and are no reflection of the views of the website or its owners.