London mayor Sadiq Khan: Why I’m supporting The Homeless Fund’s appeal to tackle rough sleeping

Khan welcomes homelessness appeal and calls for new action to help end the problem on the capital’s streets

Sadiq Khan
Tuesday 17 December 2019 13:20 GMT
‘I welcome the new campaign to help us shine a spotlight on this growing problem,’ Khan says
‘I welcome the new campaign to help us shine a spotlight on this growing problem,’ Khan says (PA)

The sharp rise in homelessness and rough sleeping over the past decade is a national disgrace.

It’s shameful that in our country and our city – one of the richest and most successful in the world – so many people find themselves forced onto the streets.

Since becoming mayor, I have made tackling rough sleeping a top priority – doubling the rough-sleeping budget and investing millions in new services to help people off the streets. This has included boosting local cold weather shelters, doubling the number of outreach workers, expanding the No Second Night Out initiative and improving access to mental health services.

This has resulted in us being able to help many more people. But the latest statistics show the uphill battle we face, with rough sleeping continuing to rise.

That’s why I welcome the new campaign to help us shine a spotlight on this growing problem, and to bring charities and Londoners together to seek to address the worst elements of the crisis.

I particularly welcome the campaign’s emphasis on helping homeless women, who are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. This is something we have been focusing on at City Hall because we know that women who are homeless have higher levels of poor mental health and are more likely to be “hidden homeless” and to experience physical and sexual abuse.

It’s also great that one of the key objectives of the campaign will be to lobby for the wider action that’s needed to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping from happening in the first place. In my view, this must include greater investment in new housing and public services, an end to welfare cuts and austerity and a commitment to tackling the root causes of homelessness.

There is clearly a great deal to do, but I remain optimistic. Rough sleeping and homelessness is far from a new problem, but that doesn’t mean we will never be able to solve it. At the start of this century, we managed to dramatically reduce rough sleeping in London by having a government, a City Hall administration and charities all working together towards the same goal.

The fact that we have been able to make this kind of progress in London before means that we can do it again. And – with this new great campaign, with the incredible generosity of Londoners and with all the work we’re doing from City Hall – this could be a real turning point.

So as Christmas approaches with many more cold nights ahead, I urge all Londoners to join this new campaign, to support the Homeless Fund and to help us come together as a city to bring an end to the homelessness crisis for good.

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