By Patrice Winn
Rough sleeping has more than doubled since 2010 in England. Crisis, a national charity delivering life-changing services and constantly campaigning for change for single homeless people, are calling on the Government to force changes to legislation to prevent further homelessness.
Currently councils only have to rehouse people who are judged to be “priority” cases – families with children, and households that include someone that is vulnerable because of pregnancy, old age and physical or mental disability.
Islington Council makes it clear on their website that you should not assume you will get a council flat unless you fall within these categories. Single healthy adults are turned away, only being offered advice and information by their councils, and resulting in rough sleeping on the streets.
Helping rough sleepers
In March, George Osborne announced a £115 million fund to services tackling rough sleepers as part of the new budget. Roughly £100 million is to be spent on 2,000 independent living spaces for people ready to move on from crisis centre accommodation, with the remaining funds dedicated to prevention services.
Whilst Crisis are urging the Government to change legislation so local housing authorities can cater for all types of homelessness, it is also calling for a reform of the private housing sector. Unaffordable homes and tenants losing their private agreements is the leading cause of homelessness, not to mention benefit cuts and a continuing housing shortage.
Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “It is essential that all homeless people can get the help they need and that councils get the necessary funding to deliver on this.”
Lead London Home
Crisis, and 24 other homelessness charities, have come together to create Lead London Home. With the Mayoral election today, this campaign for single homeless people is challenging all London Mayoral Candidates to take action this epidemic.
Statistics show that the number of people sleeping on the capital’s streets has risen to more than 7,500 in 2015, up from 3,673 in 2009/10. The campaign hopes for the Mayor of London to use his major budget and powers to create policies that will make tackling homelessness a priority.
Sian Berry, Mayoral Candidate for the Green Party, promises to create policies that “eliminate homelessness”, whilst Sadiq Khan’s falls short of catering for all types of homelessness and Zac Goldsmith’s manifesto was met with negativity by homelessness charities, being described as “a missed opportunity”.
Meanwhile, Crisis is continuously doing its part for the communities in the capital. In February, it opened its second café and shop, this time in Finsbury Park, following the success of their original shop in Hackney.
Sarah Farquhar, Crisis Director of Business Development said: “We’ve carefully considered the fresh, contemporary design of the shops, aiming to make them places that people want to spend time, creating a hive of activity and re-imagining the idea of the traditional charity shop.”
The shop not only raises vital funds for the charity, but creates job and provides training for homeless people looking to build their confidence and skills to start their new lives. Last year alone it helped 650 people with experience of homelessness find a secure job.
“It’s the best use of space in Finsbury Park,” said Jack McAuley, 27, who has lived in the area his entire life.
Crisis plans to open 10 more shops across the UK over the next two years.