With only 18 more shopping days before Christmas, Londoners are still checking items off their lists before the big day. But the homeless in the UK won’t be doing any shopping this year.
According to statistics from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), 2,744 homeless people sleeping rough on any one night in just London. Numbers are said to have steadily increased by 14 percent from 2013.
Statistics released from the DCLG reveal that the problem of rough sleeping in London, is increasing twice as fast when compared to the rest of the UK.
Stephen Holland, Communications Officer, of Homeless Link charity told Westminster World: “With Christmas approaching, the weather has naturally become colder. It becomes more dangerous for people who are rough sleeping…many groups and charities are naturally more aware of the needs of the homeless and you will find more fundraisers.”
Crisis’s Chief Executive, Jon Sparkes said: “figures show that the law is badly failing people facing homelessness. Welfare reform, benefit cuts and a chronic shortage of affordable homes mean more and more people are coming to their council as homeless. But as the law stands, far too often when single people ask for help, they are turned away to sleep on the street”.
Additionally, Ben Sanders, Research Officer at the charity said: “Many rough sleepers are using services and are in touch with services and support, but single rough sleepers do not qualify for statutory help from local authorities…they are not priority, so in many cases have no alternative by to sleep rough”.
So what are people and local charities doing to assist rough sleepers?
The charity works with local authorities in England to alert them about rough sleeper. In order to reach rough sleepers, the charity launched the app Streetlink, which allows the general public to inform local authorities about persons sleeping rough. Rough sleepers are then connected to local services; as some are not aware of the service.
- Windmill Hill Day Nursery
In an effort to raise funds and bring awareness to the issue of homelessness, staff of the nursery slept outdoors on cardboard boxes and sleeping bags.
The homeless charity has appealed to the general public to assist in its Christmas appeal. According to the charity, thousands of families are facing homelessness due to slashes to housing benefits, rising housing prices and the lack of affordable homes.
Shelter runs different appeals for homeless children in the UK. The public can donate £3 towards the charity in addition to wearing Christmas shoes instead of regular footwear.
During December, the homeless charity requests that diners at the end of their meals contribute £1 towards the homeless. Over 500 restaurants across the UK over the Christmas season are participating in the drive.