The Greater London Authority (GLA) declared a staggering increase of over 1700 rough sleepers in 2023 compared to the same period last year, highlighting the severe toll of the cost of living crisis on Londoners (click here). This alarming situation is exacerbated by a shortage of affordable housing and the reduction of COVID-19-related funding for emergency housing provision.
PLEASE SIGN OUR PETITION (CLICK HERE)
In response to this pressing issue, His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, launched a groundbreaking homeless project in June. The initiative aims to eradicate rough sleeping by providing homeless individuals with permanent housing rather than temporary accommodations. Six projects, inspired by a successful model in Finland, will be implemented across the UK, with the first launching in Belfast.
Premiership football player Tyrone Mings, in a recent Guardian article, shed light on the frightening experiences faced by homeless families in shared accommodations, drawing from his own childhood. Mings expressed his support for The Prince of Wales Project, recognizing the importance of permanent housing solutions.
Simultaneously, the BBC has uncovered that thousands of homeless teenagers are being redirected from entering care to more affordable hostel accommodation. Many of these disenfranchised teenagers claim inadequate advice and feel cheated in not receiving the necessary support for a smoother transition to independence (click here).
BACA’s Meals for the Needy project has witnessed firsthand the repercussions of the escalating crisis, experiencing a significant surge in numbers. Over 50 rough and homeless individuals regularly seek hot meals and food bank assistance every day, including a noticeable increase in younger visitors. Managing the situation has proven challenging, with longer and more tumultuous queues, prompting the implementation of stricter measures, including short-term bans for disruptive individuals.
To ensure continued support and access to care and counseling for our visitors, BACA maintains crucial partnerships with the Westminster drug project and the NHS. Despite the challenges, our dedicated volunteers strive to offer the best possible service to those in need.
We are also witnessing a growing number of families experiencing homelessness in temporary accommodation. Redbridge has a concerning track record of failing to address complaints with the Local Government Ombudsman, with 82% of complaints being upheld in 2020 (click here). These complaints encompass a wide range of issues, from poorly maintained homes to a lack of school places, the instability of homes leading to frequent school changes, and a failure to meet healthcare plans. These challenges impose significant mental and financial burdens on families. In June, the London Borough of Redbridge lost a high court battle and was compelled to pay compensation following the rejection of a proposed move to Peterborough by a family. The rejection was based on the grounds that the move would disrupt a child nearing SATS Examinations (click here).
BACA remains dedicated to collaborating with local schools, actively informing them about our services. This ensures that young children have access to health resources and hot meals, while families can utilize our food bank for additional support. Additionally, we provide food services at a women’s refuge in Ilford, delivering meals to support up to four women under their care and protection each week. Furthermore, we deliver 50 meals per week to the Malachi Project in Ilford. This project accommodates homeless individuals, including those with no recourse to government funding, in temporary accommodation.
The Meals for the Needy project is not funded by the lottery for moral reasons, and we rely on the generosity of our donors to operate. Your support is critical in addressing this growing crisis and ensuring that vulnerable individuals receive the care and assistance they deserve. To contribute and make a difference, please donate (here).
Read more about a visit from MP Sam Tarry (click here)
Given the challenges faced by BACA in addressing the homelessness crisis, we are making a call for action:
- Increased Government Support: We advocate for increased government funding and resources to address the root causes of homelessness, including affordable housing initiatives and comprehensive support services.
- Policy Reforms: We call for policy reforms that streamline the process of handling complaints related to housing conditions, school placements, and healthcare plans. Work towards improving the accountability of local authorities in addressing these issues.
- Community Involvement: We encourage community engagement and collaboration. Seek volunteers, donations, and partnerships to enhance the impact of BACA’s initiatives and expand support for those in need. Similar support should be reciprocated across the country.
- Education and Awareness: We call on charities to promote awareness campaigns to educate the public about the complexities of homelessness, dispel myths, and foster empathy. This can help reduce stigma and encourage community support.
- Networking with Organizations: We encourage a strengthening of partnerships between organizations, both locally and nationally, to collectively address the multifaceted issues of homelessness and share best practices.
Hannah Chowdhry, Project lead for the Meals for the Needy project, said:
“The heartbreaking stories shared by individuals navigating the labyrinth of temporary homes reveal a stark reality of instability and unforeseen costs, perpetuating a cycle of poverty.
It’s a poignant reminder that we must strive for housing solutions that offer not just shelter, but stability and dignity, breaking the chains of adversity that too many face in their journey towards a home and hope.”
“The insidious grip of drug addiction, often thrust upon the vulnerable, has become a tragic gateway to homelessness, robbing individuals of both dignity and health.
It’s a crime against humanity that demands a collective response.
We must intensify our efforts to eradicate the roots of addiction, provide comprehensive support, and restore the lives and dignity of those ensnared by this cruel cycle.”
“As an advocate for those facing homelessness, I believe in the transformative power of compassion and community.
Together, we can build bridges of support, dismantle the barriers of inequality, and create a future where no one is left without a home, hope, or a helping hand.”
PLEASE SIGN OUR PETITION (CLICK HERE)