Mayor appeals to housing sector to back his rough sleeping campaign
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has hailed the generosity of Londoners, who have donated £35,000 in the last week alone to his campaign to help rough sleepers as temperatures plummeted across the capital.
The campaign, launched in December, has so far raised over £145,000 through more than 3,300 donations for the London Homeless Charities Group, a coalition of 18 charities brought together by the Mayor to offer Londoners one single donation point.
Since the start of the campaign, Londoners have made a record 23,465 referrals through StreetLink*, an app and website used to let local support services know about rough sleepers. February alone saw 11,288 referrals compared to 526 during February 2017 – an increase of over 2000 per cent.
The Mayor has now written to leading players in the housing sector including Peabody, Taylor Wimpey, Hyde, and Berkeley Group asking them to join Londoners in donating and to support calls on Government to do more.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “One of the issues I know Londoners care most about is ensuring no one needs to sleep rough on our capital’s streets. That’s why I launched my campaign, which Londoners have responded to in a phenomenal way, helping connect more rough sleepers than ever before with outreach support in the capital and raising over £145,000 for our homelessness charities to develop their services further.
“Our shelters have also been doing incredible work this winter, offering people a warm place to stay and helping them with further support to get them off the streets for good. But rough sleeping doesn’t just happen in winter – people are out on our streets every night of the year, and everyone needs to do more. I’m doing all I can at City Hall, including opening emergency shelters every night of freezing weather, and working with councils and charities across London to boost the services on offer and to be clear that the Government needs to do much more.
“I have also been struck by how many businesses, organisations, and individual Londoners want to play their part too. I welcome leading players in the housing sector joining Londoners in responding so generously to this campaign, meaning charities can develop their services and improve their referral systems further, helping to ensure that no one needs to sleep rough on our streets.”
At the launch of the campaign, Sadiq changed City Hall policy to open cold-weather shelters more often, by opening them on every night temperatures fall below zero. Under the previous Mayor’s policy, shelters only opened when three consecutive nights of sub-zero temperatures were forecast.
Sadiq did not believe this policy went far enough to help those sleeping rough in the capital, and as a result of his new policy, cold-weather shelters have been open for 35 nights since the beginning of December, compared to the 28 nights they would have been open in this same period under the previous Mayor’s policy.** This is the highest number of nights since 2012/13.
Sadiq also worked with all 33 London boroughs to help them change their local policies and operate in the same way. These shelters have been open since last Friday throughout the recent cold weather, and the work of boroughs, faith-based organisations, and City Hall means that around 1,000 spaces have been available every night across the capital to those who need them.
Over the current period of continuous sub-zero temperatures, City Hall-run shelters, which provide overflow when local boroughs are full, have seen over 100 people referred to them, with 15 already linked into more permanent accommodation. The shelters have been open both day and night over the last week, with more opening as demand increased.
All the City Hall-run shelters, and many of the borough provisions, also take dogs, and are open to anyone who needs help. Local outreach teams receiving alerts via StreetLink attempt to visit rough sleepers as soon as possible, and those needing help can also approach their local authorities during the day.
Petra Salva, St Mungo's Director of Rough Sleeping Services, said: "This winter has shown how people in London, charities and various organisations, the Mayor and local authorities can really pull together in emergency situations to help people who are street homeless.
"During extreme weather it is about life-saving. Rough sleeping, however, is an emergency for those involved throughout the year. We thank and welcome the support of everyone who wants to see people who are on the streets have a place to call home and the chance to move on with their lives."
The Mayor is asking people to donate to the London Charities Homeless Group via a GoFundMe page set up by the coalition. Details can be found here: www.london.gov.uk/help-rough-sleepers.
Notes to editors
*Figures accurate as of 2nd March
** Figures accurate as of 5th March
The Mayor’s outreach team, London Street Rescue, has conducted over 350 shifts since December, offering help and support to those sleeping rough.
The money raised from the campaign will be split equally between the 18 charities. The donations of over £100,000 could provide:
Decent clothes for 10,000 people coming in off the streets;
Things needed to set up home, like pots, pans and bed linen for 4,000 people; or
Help for 2,000 people to gain the skills or qualifications they need to sustain a life away from the streets.
The new coalition of 18 charities - London Homeless Charities Group consists of:
- Albert Kennedy Trust
- The Connection at St Martin
- Homeless Link
- Housing Justice
- New Horizon Youth Centre
- Providence Row
- St Mungo’s
- Thames Reach
- The Big Issue Foundation
- The Passage
- The Salvation Army
- West London Mission
- YMCA England
- The donation page on London.gov.uk and information for contacting StreetLink will remain at www.london.gov.uk/helproughsleepers.
- The total number of rough sleepers seen rough sleeping in London in 2016/17 was 8,108. This compares to 8,096 the previous year. The figure reported in 2010/11 was of 3,975. Chain statistics are here: https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/chain-reports.
- The Mayor has set up the ‘No Nights Sleeping Rough’ taskforce - a London-wide taskforce to oversee the implementation of the Mayor’s rough sleeping work and funding priorities. Chaired by James Murray, the Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, it brings together partners key to tackling rough sleeping in London (including boroughs, voluntary organisations and government).
- City Hall also invests £9 million a year in a range of pan-London services for rough sleepers. Last year, the rough sleeping services commissioned by the Mayor supported more than 1,600 people off the streets and 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.
- More information about those services can be found here: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/housing-and-land/homelessness/mayor%E2%80%99s-rough-sleeping-service.
- Through his Affordable Homes Programme 2016-21, the Mayor has made available up to £50m of capital funding to provide accommodation for people ready to move on from hostels, so that this group can live more independently and spaces are made available for those newly in need.
- The ‘No Nights Sleeping Rough’ taskforce helped the Mayor secure £4.2m from the government to help rough sleepers. That includes: £2 million (alongside £1 million from City Hall) for a rough-sleeping Social Impact Bond – an innovative results-focussed way of helping more than 300 of London’s rough sleepers with the most complex needs, such as mental health issues and drug and alcohol problems; £1.875 million for a ‘Safe Connections’ project, to help people who have slept rough at least twice in the last three months; and £340,000 for a pan-London ‘Hostels Clearing House’ pilot, to help councils and the services they commission make optimum use of London’s hostel spaces for rough sleepers.