New campaign to help London’s rough sleepers
Helping rough sleepers to access vital services and find a permanent path off London’s streets are the aims of a major new campaign launched by Mayor Sadiq Khan today.
The campaign, ‘No one needs to sleep rough in London’, will raise awareness among Londoners of how they can help people sleeping rough in the capital - for example letting StreetLink know if they've seen someone sleeping rough so they arrange for an outreach worker to go out to help them or donating to a new coalition of homelessness charities.
More than 8,000 people slept rough on the streets of London in 2016-17. While the number has been effectively halted in the Mayor’s first year in office – which has seen record levels of City Hall investment in homelessness services – the figure has doubled since 2010.
Sadiq has joined forces with a new coalition of 18 homelessness charities, the London Homeless Charities Group, which offers a single donation point for those who want to help directly.
“We’ve already started to make progress in London, but it’s still shocking that so many people in our city feel they have no choice but to sleep on the streets. We must continue to take action because one person sleeping rough is always one too many,” the Mayor said.
“I know there are millions of Londoners who want to do something to help rough sleepers get off the streets for good. That’s why I am pleased to be joining forces with our new coalition of charities dedicated to this cause, offering a single donation point for Londoners who want to give money to those who need help the most.”
The Mayor has also brought in a fresh approach to supporting people sleeping rough in London. Emergency shelters will now open on every day of sub-zero temperatures. Previously, shelters were only available when three consecutive days of freezing temperatures were forecast.
Sadiq has also set up the London-wide ‘No Nights Sleeping Rough’ taskforce to oversee his work on the issue, bringing together partners working to tackle rough sleeping in London including boroughs, voluntary organisations and the government.
As part of this work, a new permanent home is being built in Hackney for the No Second Night Out service, which helps people who are new to the streets, while another permanent hub will open in Lewisham next year.
“It should be unimaginable that anyone has to spend a single night sleeping rough in this country,” said Denise Hatton, Chief Executive for YMCA England & Wales. “Homelessness is the major issue of our time, which is why 18 charities have come together to form the London Homeless Charities Group, bringing together expertise across the sector to end rough sleeping and homelessness in the capital for good.”
Last year, the rough sleeping services commissioned by the Mayor supported more than 1,600 people in coming off the streets. They also helped a further 1,600 people with a history of rough sleeping, who are at risk of losing their accommodation and returning to the streets, to stay in their homes.
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