New weather-triggered ads show Londoners how to help rough sleepers

05 February 2019
  • Severe weather shelters have been open for 24 nights already this Winter.
  • Mayor’s rough sleeping campaign has raised £200,000 for the London Homeless Charities Group since November.
  • Record 9,165 referrals to StreetLink made since campaign got underway.
  • New weather-triggered billboard and radio adverts ask Londoners to help rough sleepers when it's freezing.

 Giant billboards and digital advertising screens across the capital will be used to highlight the plight of people sleeping rough during the severe winter weather, as part of the Mayor Sadiq Khan’s continued campaign to help London’s homeless off the streets.   


The campaign, launched at the end of November, has already raised more than £200,000 for the London Homeless Charities Group, a coalition of charities working to tackle rough sleeping, including over £42,000 raised through more than 14,000 donations via new TAP London contactless giving points. A total of 78 TAP points, which allow Londoners to donate £3 by using their contactless debit cards, have been rolled out across the capital since the campaign launched.


As Winter continues, advertising giant Clear Channel has put its weight behind the campaign and gifted more than 130 billboards and screens across London to help promote the campaign. These innovative billboards and screens will be triggered by weather data from the Met Office to display the temperature when it drops to zero or below.


With severe weather shelters now open whenever the weather is freezing, the adverts will encourage Londoners to let StreetLink know about people on the street they are concerned about via the app, website or phoneline so that outreach teams can help. There have already been a record 9,165 referrals made to StreetLink since the campaign began - 600 more than were made over the whole of last winter, when the Mayor first began promoting Streetlink to Londoners.


The billboards will be complemented by radio adverts – activated when the temperature is due to fall to zero - featuring a former rough sleeper reading the evening’s weather forecast and recounting his life on the street.

Emergency cold weather shelters across the capital have already opened for 24 nights this Winter, as temperatures hover around zero. More than 700 beds are available through the severe weather shelters funded by City Hall and boroughs, in addition to more than 600 spaces provided by winter night shelters run by faith and community groups.

Under the previous Mayor, severe weather shelters only opened if three consecutive days of freezing temperatures were forecast. Sadiq changed this, to make sure shelters are open whenever the temperature is zero or below. He has further agreed with London councils that, from this winter, severe weather shelters will now open London-wide if the temperature is predicted to drop to zero or below anywhere in the capital. Previously, shelters were opened on a borough-by-borough basis, leading to patchy provision.

The Mayor has also worked with boroughs to sign up to the ‘In For Good’ principle - a promise that, when a person rough sleeping goes to an emergency shelter, they will be accommodated there until a support plan is put in place to help them off the streets for good.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “It is a national disgrace that so many people are being forced to sleep rough, and we know that compassionate Londoners want to help in any way they can.  These innovative billboards gifted by Clear Channel will help to raise awareness of how to help rough sleepers during the freezing weather. 


“But while City Hall’s expanded services are now helping more rough sleepers than ever before, many more continue to be forced onto the streets. Unless government ministers address the causes of rough sleeping and homelessness, including their cuts to welfare and services for vulnerable people, we will never succeed in our mission to end homelessness.


“I urge Londoners to keep donating, either via the GoFundMe page or the TAP London points, and to refer any rough sleepers they are concerned about to StreetLink so they can get the support they need to leave the streets for good.”


Howard Sinclair, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, said: “Like many organisations, we at St Mungo’s redouble efforts when temperatures hit freezing as severe weather can be life threatening. We are also committed to making our response to SWEP one that keeps people in for good. Our thanks, on behalf of the coalition, to all those generous Londoners who are supporting this campaign and who continue to use the StreetLink service to connect people with vital services.”


 Katie Whitlock, Co-founder of TAP London, a not-for-profit company dedicated to improving the lives of homeless Londoners through contactless technology and innovation, said: “We are thrilled at how TAP London has been received, with over 14,000 people donating through our contactless devices so far. To bring that to life, imagine fifteen packed Victoria line tubes in a row emptying out at rush-hour. That’s how many generous people have tapped their card to support the London Homeless Charities Group.”

Notes to editors

Notes to editors

  1. SWEP figures correct as of 5 January 2019. SWEP has been open for 24 nights this Winter – from the end of November 2018.
  2. Fundraising figures correct as of 5 February 2019.
  3. StreetLink stats correct as of 28 January 2019. Last winter, Londoners made 8,516 StreetLink referrals, up until 5 June 2018.
  4. Billboard and radio adverts have been developed by communications firm Weber Shandwick as part of a pro bono arrangement with City Hall.
  5. Pictures of the billboards and display screens are available on request. Please email [email protected]

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