The Christian charity Housing Justice has played a key role in the launch of the London Rough Sleeping Charter in conjunction with London Councils, the London Mayor’s Office and homelessness sector partners including Connection at St Martin’s, The Passage, Groundswell and the YMCA.
The Charter is a public commitment for Londoners to work together to tackle rough sleeping in the capital and is supported by the ‘Life off the Streets’ group, a coalition of organisations working together to end rough sleeping in London, as well as more than 100 local organisations and businesses.
The Charter sets out six principles for signatories to uphold including:
- Accepting that whilst people sleeping rough may have problems, they aren’t problem people
- Recognising that everyone rough sleeping is unique, and there should be meaningful options for all – regardless of immigration status
- Ensuring that people sleeping rough are safe from violence, abuse, theft and discrimination, and that they have the full protection of the law.
It also includes key actions that signatories commit to undertake and support:
- Acknowledging people when they talk to you or ask you for money, even if you decide you would rather not give it to them directly
- If you see someone sleeping rough who needs help, notify Streetlink London
- Volunteer, donate, or support a charity which has joined this pledge.
Research by London Councils shows that the number of refugees and asylum seekers presenting as homeless in London rose by 39% in October, with 846 people left without a home after they were granted asylum by the Home Office and given only a few days to find accommodation.
In order to try and address this, Housing Justice has this week launched a Refugee Lodgings Programme whereby individuals leaving Home Office accommodation having been granted Refugee Status, can rent a room in a landlord’s home (become a lodger) for six months while they find permanent accommodation, a job, and adapt to life in the UK. Housing Justice supports both the landlord and lodger during the process which provides an income for the landlord, and a safety net from homelessness and rough sleeping for the lodger.
Chief Executive of Housing Justice, Kathy Mohan OBE, said: “The churches, mosques and temples in our network are seeing rising numbers of refugees and asylum seekers approaching them for help, asylum decision in hand, with nowhere to sleep, and no idea how to get the support they need. We help where we can but many are resorting to rough sleeping. We hope that this new Refugee Lodgings programme and the Charter will help to tackle this worrying rise.”