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The Homeless Fund: Readers ensure a vital boost to services for London’s homeless

‘I am a pensioner with a home and I am very distressed to see more and more people living on the streets in this cold weather’

Mark Blunden
Friday 31 January 2020 18:35 GMT
Staff at The Connection in Charing Cross
Staff at The Connection in Charing Cross

The generosity of Independent and Evening Standard readers has ensured a vital boost to homeless services for Londoners who have fallen on hard times, charities said on Friday.

Hundreds of you answered the call and dug deep as the capital’s homeless people told their stories and frontline organisations from the London Homeless Collective told how their resources were stretched like never before.

More than 1,120 donations have been made since the campaign launched on 20 November, with the highest number – 109 – made on 6 December after our story about singer-songwriter Jecoliah Frimpong, who spent nights sleeping on London buses as a teenager. Nearly 50 people made donations on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

From the comments, it was clear those giving money sometimes did not have much themselves, but felt they needed to do something to help out.

One donor wrote: “I am a pensioner with a home and I am very distressed to see more and more people living on the streets in this cold weather. I can help a little.”

Another said: “This donation is made at the request of my brother and sister-in-law who have asked that, in lieu of a Christmas present this year.”

A third added: “We have a young daughter. It breaks our heart to see people as young or younger than her cold and hungry.” Several called homelessness a “scandal”, urging government action.

The appeal’s flagship project will be a 24-hour women’s drop-in centre run by the Church Army’s Marylebone Project – extending services by 20 hours daily – along with other new initiatives by charities within the collective.

New funding will also help Centrepoint fund psychotherapy treatment for homeless 16- to 25-year-olds. It will assist the charity in “offering an immediate response that prevents escalation” of crisis conditions, such as self-harming and overdosing.

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Paul Noblet of Centrepoint said: “The damage caused to a young person’s physical and mental health from experiencing homelessness can be severe – this money will help us address that.”

Former Centrepoint client Jamie Hurley, now a master’s graduate and dance teacher specialising in jazz, said: “Homelessness often goes unnoticed because it’s not always in plain sight. It’s amazing this campaign has got people talking about it.”

Des Scott, the Marylebone Project’s chief executive, said the next step was undertaking a study into the practicalities of a 24/7 centre and increasing teams of staff and volunteers.

He said: “We are very grateful for the support of the Standard Homeless campaign in raising the profile of our work.”

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