The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called on leading players in the housing sector to support his campaign on homelessness after Londoners donated £35,000 in the last week alone.
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%.
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 Khan 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.
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.