A campaign launched a month ago by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has already raised more than £150,000 to help homelessness charities go further in tackling rough sleeping in the capital.
The campaign is part of the Mayor’s efforts to boost rough sleeping services in London, including using funding he has secured from national Government to double the size of City Hall’s street outreach team, and his agreement with London boroughs that all severe weather shelters London-wide will open if the temperature is predicted to drop to or below zero anywhere in the capital.
Sadiq launched his winter rough sleeping fundraising drive a month ago by installing 35 new ‘TAP London’ contactless donation points across the capital – with a further 24 points added since then.
Developed with the help of the Mayor’s Rough Sleeping Innovation Fund, the TAP units allow Londoners to donate on the go, using a contactless debit card or phone to give £3. These units have already been used 6,738 times, with all donations going to the London Homeless Charities Group – a coalition of 22 charities tackling homelessness in the capital – alongside those made to the Group via its GoFundMe page or direct.
Londoners have also responded to Sadiq’s call to help connect those sleeping rough with outreach workers and vital services by using the StreetLink app and website. 3243 referrals have already been made to StreetLink since the campaign began.
A cold snap earlier this month led to the Mayor opening emergency shelters across the capital for four nights in a row. Every night, more than 700 spaces were made 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.
Sadiq has also succeeded in getting all boroughs to sign up to the ‘In For Good’ principle – a promise that when a rough sleeper 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: “Londoners have once again thrown their support behind this campaign, and it’s fantastic to see them using the TAP London contactless points to donate on the go, as well as the online GoFundMe page. While many of us have enjoyed this festive period with our families, it is a national disgrace that so many people have spent it cold, frightened and hungry, without a place to call home.
“City Hall are doing all we can to increase services with the money we have got from the Government, and we are keeping up the pressure on Ministers to stop ignoring the root causes of homelessness. To help more people right now, the charities in the London Homeless Charities Group are working tirelessly to tackle rough sleeping, and the money raised from my campaign will help them go even further. I urge Londoners to keep donating, and to refer any rough sleepers they are concerned about to StreetLink, so they can be connected with the support they desperately need.”
Greg Beales, campaign director at Shelter said: “It’s fantastic to see the generosity of Londoners supporting people sleeping rough over the winter period. The money donated will help this coalition of charities provide vital support and services for people living on the streets. I’d like to thank everyone who has donated so far, this issue has never been more urgent and your money will help save lives.”
Petra Salva, Director of Rough Sleeper Services at St Mungo’s, said: “As one of the members of the London Homeless Charities Group, we’d like to thank the thousands of Londoners who have already generously supported this campaign. St Mungo’s will be using the money we receive this year to support people who are tackling physical and mental health problems. Rough sleeping is harmful and dangerous and people can face complex problems recovering from the trauma of being on the streets. Through our work we know that with the right support at the right time people can, and do, rebuild their lives.”
Sadiq invests £8.5 million a year of the GLA budget into tackling rough sleeping, and since becoming Mayor has secured £11.5 million from the national Government to increase services further. This year, that includes providing two new staging posts for his No Second Night Out service, and a ‘floating hub’ which moves around London targeting rough sleeping hot spots with intensive, immediate support. Last year the Mayor’s teams helped 5,000 rough sleepers and former rough sleepers, and 86 per cent of those people were not seen on the streets again.
TAP London are set to roll out further contactless donation points across the capital, with 90 to be put in place throughout the winter.