World Homeless Day was on 10 October, and we have been encouraging local people to bring about positive change in their communities by supporting those who are most in need.
When thinking about homelessness, most people will think of sleeping rough on the street. However, there are several different types of homelessness. These include rough sleeping, staying in temporary or emergency accommodation and ‘hidden homelessness’ such as sofa surfing.
Rough sleeping in England has more than doubled in recent years. For every 10 people sleeping rough in 2012 there are 45 in 2022. This is a 4.5x increase in just 10 years and is primarily due to the increase of the cost of living, and issues with housing, significantly with higher rent in the private sector.
Runnymede Borough has low numbers of rough sleepers, but the Council believes that even one person sleeping rough is one too many.
Councillor Jacqui Gracey, Chair of the Housing Committee said:
While we all want to support our communities, and especially the most vulnerable, when it comes to homelessness giving direct financial support is often not the best way to help. While it may help to meet short term immediate needs, across Runnymede we are encouraging people to instead support the fantastic charities working to provider longer term and strategic support.
The Council works with local organisations such as Runnymede Foodbank, Addlestone Salvation Army, Just a Helping Hand, as well as national organisations such as Shelter, Crisis and Centrepoint, to address issues of homelessness and provide support to individuals or families in need.
If you would like to donate money, please do consider supporting these excellent organisations who can ensure the money is spent where it is most needed, and in delivering long term homelessness solutions.
Although it can be tempting to donate directly to rough sleepers, by giving money you are enabling them to spend another night without long term support. In some cases, you may also be financing dangerous habits such as alcohol or drug abuse.
You can also offer tangible help in the following ways:
- If someone you know is or could soon be forced to leave their home, consider whether you could offer them a room (please ensure you carry out safeguarding checks prior to offering a room)
- Engage in a friendly conversation with those facing homelessness if you feel safe and confident to do so
- Give a hot/cool drink and a snack to those sleeping on the streets
- Donate food to a local food bank such as Runnymede Foodbank
- Volunteer with a local homeless charity such as The Addlestone Salvation Army or Revive Café in Chertsey
- Take part in a fundraising event – Crisis has lots of suggestions
- Donate money, clothes, or toiletries to support a local homeless charity such as Just a Helping Hand
- Offer accommodation to the Council. The Council’s Magna Carta Lettings Team are always on the lookout for new landlords with properties to let to those in need
Crucially, the Council needs you to help us reach people who are either homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless. By notifying the Council as soon as possible if you know of a homeless person, even if it is someone you don’t know, you could save lives.
Early alerts allow us to reach out to those in temporary accommodation, to help support them into a safer home before their situation becomes worse.
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01932 838383 and we will send a member of staff to check on the person and offer non-judgemental advice.
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