A homeless man sits on a pavement in central London (Reuters)

Homelessness charity Shelter has seen a record surge in callers to the charity's helpline as Christmas draws nearer.

The organisation revealed the number of people who called the Shelter helpline over the whole year reached 174,177 - a 10% rise year-on-year, equivalent to more than 470 people calling the helpline every single day.

In addition, the number of visits to the Shelter website advice pages has increased to 399,666 in 2012/13 from 320,801 in 2011/2012 - a 20% jump.

The charity said the shocking figures reflect the growing number of people struggling to cope with the rising costs of living coupled with stagnating wages.

"These figures should serve as a stark reminder of the families who will be facing an everyday struggle to keep a roof over their heads this Christmas," said Campbell Robb, Shelter's chief executive.

He added: "While most of us will rightly be enjoying the festivities at home with our family and friends, Shelter helpline staff will be taking calls from people on the brink of homelessness.

"But with the number of calls for help they receive rising quickly, they need more support to keep going."

Shelter expects that more families will find it increasingly difficult to keep a roof over their heads, especially as bills mount in the run up to Christmas.

The Shelter helpline is open 365 days a year, with a dedicated team of 50 expert advisors.

It is partly funded by the charity's partnership with Marks & Spencer, whose customers have helped raise over £2m ($3.2m, €2.3m) for the helpline over the past eight years by buying millions of Christmas sandwiches from Marks & Spencer's Food on The Move range.

Mike Barry, Marks & Spencer's director of Plan A, added: "It's amazing to think how much of a difference can be made by simply buying a sandwich or festive treat this holiday season.

"The charity is urging shoppers to buy their lunch from the M&S Christmas Food On The Move range this festive season to make sure that no call for help goes unanswered."

Earlier this month, the charity launched an emergency appeal for the 80,000 children in Britain who will "wake up homeless" this Christmas.