On 16th February, as Storms Dudley and Eunice were brewing, we at StreetLink sent out an emergency appeal.
No one should have to sleep rough in any conditions, but sleeping on the streets during periods of extreme weather can put people at risk of severe health issues which can, at times, be fatal.
That’s why we asked people to spare what they could to help the StreetLink team provide fast, accurate alerts to local services about people sleeping rough. I think it’s fair to say that we were astonished by the response. Through the appeal we raised a massive £15,278.
I want to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to those who donated as well as those who use StreetLink and encourage others to do the same. The response to the appeal, and the continual rise in the number of people who use StreetLink, affirms my belief that members of the public really care about ending rough sleeping and are willing to take decisive action to achieve this goal.
This commitment will be even more important in the coming months as the cost of living crisis starts to take hold. The economic fall out of the pandemic, coupled with the impact of the conflict in Ukraine, led the Bank of England to recently warn that household disposable incomes are likely to shrink by 2% this year, the biggest fall since records began in 1990. Meanwhile, analysis from the property website Zoopla has found that renters in the UK are paying £62 a month more than before the pandemic. It’s no wonder analysis by the Resolution Foundation has warned that the poorest households in the UK could see their cost-of-living jump by as high as 10% by Autumn.
When cost of living increases, homelessness inevitably does too. Indeed, the recent Homelessness Monitor published by Crisis and Heriot-Watt University predicted that the number of people experiencing homelessness could increase by a third by 2024 due to a ‘tidal wave’ of need.
Research has found that the longer people sleep rough, the less their likelihood of finding long-term stable housing. That’s why, in the coming months, it’s so important that anyone who has found their finances squeezed to the extent that they have nowhere to sleep is connected to local services quickly to help them get back on their feet.
When we conducted a survey late last year, three out of five people said they would be more likely to help someone sleeping rough if they knew the best way to connect them to long-term support. The issue is only one in five people have heard of StreetLink, so we will be working hard to raise awareness of the service in the coming months.
A tough road lies ahead, but the passion and commitment of StreetLink’s supporters gives me confidence that we can achieve our dream of no one having to sleep rough.