Homeless charities in central London, major business groups and Westminster City Council have come together to thank Londoners for helping thousands of people to move away from the streets of Westminster every year.
The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields, St Mungo’s and The Passage help more rough sleepers than any other service in the UK, but only thanks to the countless Londoners who alert outreach teams or donate to homelessness services when they see someone sleeping rough.
As a result, between 60 to 70% of new rough sleepers in Westminster never see a second night out on the street.
The charities, seven Business Improvement Districts and the council are asking people to keep making a real change by:
Cllr Nickie Aiken, Cabinet Member for Public Protection, Westminster City Council, said: “Every year Londoners help thousands of people who are less fortunate and we want to let them know how much we appreciate and value their incredible generosity.
“We don’t want to tell people what to do, but all evidence shows that the best way to help someone sleeping rough is to alert StreetLink and give to a registered charity, instead of directly on the street. It’s these charities that are able to reach rough sleepers quickly, assess their needs and offer them a better chance of a more stable future.”
Dean was homeless for over two years following a relationship breakdown. He found his way onto the streets of Westminster where he was met by outreach teams and later by a St Mungo’s caseworker: “St Mungo’s helped me into a hostel and they jointly supported my move into a flat. I owe them everything. Knowing you’re safe and you can have a bath - it makes a huge difference to your life.”
It was the practical things, like having his clothes washed and his travel to job interviews paid for, that helped Dean rebuild his life and find a job with a construction company.
Colin Glover, Chief Executive, the Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields, said: “All our research shows that giving directly to rough sleepers not only stops them from getting the help they need, but can also lead to an increase in drug and alcohol abuse, mental health problems and the risk of becoming victims of serious crimes.
“It’s Londoners’ donations that pay for things like suits for job interviews, bed linen, or food packs which truly help people to start a new life and make it less likely for them to return to the street.”