Mayor of London joins Hounslow Council leader to launch rough sleeping campaign
Sadiq Khan has called on Londoners to show their generosity during an annual fundraising campaign to help homeless people off the streets which he launched in Hounslow on Wednesday (1 December).
The Mayor marked the launch of the Winter Rough Sleeping Fundraising Campaign on Wednesday with a visit to a youth rough sleeping support service in Hounslow.
The service, which was part-funded by donations from last year’s appeal, is run by teams from Depaul and New Horizon Youth Centre and has helped 77 young people into permanent accommodation since it launched in March.
Depaul UK CEO, Mike Thiedke said, “Every day, more young people become homeless in London and unfortunately we’re seeing an increasing number of them ending up on our streets.
“We are facing a crisis of youth homelessness and are thankful to the Mayor for recognising the particular needs of young people and choosing them as the focus for his winter campaign.”
Last year, the Winter Rough Sleeping Fundraising Campaign raised more than £100,000 for homelessness charities Depaul, akt, Centrepoint and the New Horizon Youth Centre, all four of which will once again benefit from donations this year.
During the pandemic, more than 2,500 rough sleepers have been helped into City Hall-provided accommodation, 86 per cent of whom did not return to the streets.
But Sadiq Khan has warned the Government to “wake up” to the scale of the homelessness crisis and has called on ministers to fulfil the Government’s manifesto commitment to end rough sleeping by 2027.
There were an estimated 688 homeless deaths across England and Wales in 2020, down from 778 the previous year. It is estimated that 13 homeless deaths in 2020 were due to Covid-19.
Mr Khan said, “From City Hall we are doing everything we can with the resources at our disposal to keep rough sleepers safe and I’m confident Londoners will once again show their generosity by backing my winter fundraising campaign and helping to support young Londoners who find themselves homeless.
“Even so, the generosity of Londoners alone cannot end rough sleeping in our capital. This time last year we were hailing the remarkable success of the ‘Everyone In’ programme for saving the lives of hundreds of vulnerable Londoners. Despite seeing what can be achieved when we work together, ministers now appear unwilling or unable to confront the appalling reality that hundreds of young Londoners could spend this Christmas sleeping on the streets.”
Leader of Hounslow Council, Cllr Steve Curran, said, “The Mayor has quite rightly warned ‘hundreds face spending Christmas on the streets’ if substantial support from the Government is not forthcoming. It’s no surprise young people have been hit the hardest by the pandemic and the decline of the economy and have faced sleeping rough. Many of them under the age of 25. There needs to be much more ministerial focus on the plight of the homeless and we will continue to urge the Government to increase support for local efforts to tackle the issue.
“Hounslow Council works closely with the Mayor and the Greater London Authority to ensure we do everything we can to end homelessness, help individuals into temporary accommodation and provide the longer-term support they need for a better future. The Mayor’s visit to a homelessness hub in Hounslow today, a service funded by the Mayor’s previous winter homelessness campaign, is an example of the work the Mayor, local authorities and charities are doing to make tackling homelessness a priority and support anyone who is facing the prospect of sleeping rough.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Mayor for enabling this new pan-London youth rough sleeping support service and Depaul UK - the youth homelessness charity, as well as New Horizon Youth Centre and the Cardinal Hume Centre who played a key role in the delivery of the homelessness hub mobilised in March this year. I would also like to thank everyone who donated last year as your contributions have played a huge part in making this happen.”
The Mayor of London has said that Government policies around immigration and cuts to benefits are undermining efforts to tackle rough sleeping.
The Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities has been approached for comment.
Although the number of rough sleepers in London has fallen by around 37 per cent in the past year, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on homelessness has been felt most harshly by vulnerable Londoners.
Between June and September 2020, the number of rough sleepers under the age of 25 increased by almost 50 per cent, while the number of young women sleeping on the streets doubled.
Londoners can donate to the appeal by using “TAP” contactless points in shops, stations and cafes across the capital or by donating directly on the TAP website.
Digital billboards around London promoting the campaign will also feature a QR code which, if scanned by a smartphone, will allow people to immediately donate £3.
Londoners are also being encouraged to download the Streetlink app, which allows users to contact outreach workers who will come out to support anyone sleeping rough in the capital.
Joe Talora - Local Democracy Reporter
December 3, 2021