19 October 2020

A scheme helping rough sleepers off London’s streets is to be expanded after a surge in homelessness during lockdown.

Street Buddies, which employs volunteers with experience of homelessness or substance misuse to help rough sleepers off the streets and rebuild their lives, will start in another five boroughs after securing more than £600,000 in funding.

It comes as new figures show 4,227 people were recorded as sleeping rough on the streets of London between March and June – a 33 per cent increase on the same period last year.

Some 2,680 people were sleeping rough in London for the first time – a 77 per cent increase in new rough sleepers compared to the same period last year, according to data from The Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN).

The Street Buddies programme was created by Riverside – the largest provider of supported housing for those affected by homelessness in Britain.

It has been working in Westminster but will now expand into the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Lambeth and the City of London.

As well as bringing people sleeping rough off the streets it will work with some of the 4,000 homeless people in London placed in hotels and other forms of emergency accommodation during lockdown to help them move on with their lives and not end up back on the streets.

Amanda Clark, Riverside’s operations manager for London, said: “We are aware of multiple factors which have driven an increase in rough sleeping during the pandemic.

“We have always known there were significant numbers of people who were considered hidden homeless, and were either sofa-surfing or living in overcrowded homes, situations which can then become a health risk for people during a pandemic and cannot be continued.

“Some workers, particularly in the hospitality sector, have become homeless because they have been in accommodation which was tied to their job and that job has been lost. Relationship breakdowns and the reported significant increases in domestic violence during the lockdown have also caused people to leave homes to escape relationships.”

Source: Evening Standard