5th April 2022

At Regina Coeli Catholic Primary School, Naomi Townsend was set the task of raising money to show compassion for 22 people who are either homeless or rough sleeping in Croydon by the parents and friends association (PAF).

Motivated by the school’s daily mantra of kind words, kind hands and kind feet, Naomi, along with her other classmates, were given suggestions of a sponsored silence, run or walk.

Her father Lee Townsend, 45, is the Engagement Lead at Macmillan Cancer Support.

He said: “Naomi thought a lot of the school’s suggestions were boring and she wanted to do something that helps people. I’m in awe of what she’s doing.

“Naomi’s got a massive heart, she is so kind, giving and caring. She’s always been concerned about people sleeping on the street.

Inspired by her volunteering work at Percy’s Homeless Hub in December, Naomi decided to use her savings to buy ingredients for a cake and her favourite pasta meal to feed 22 homeless people.

She set up a go fund me page, called ‘Project 22’, to help raise extra funds and it has so far reached £2,265.

Naomi said: “I wanted to raise money for my school while helping to make other people feel happy. 

“A lot of people have said that I’ve inspired them, so hopefully we can all practice being kind to others.”

With the help of charity workers at Percy’s Homeless Hub, meals, sleeping bags, bedding, toiletries and other essentials will be distributed to Croydon’s homeless.

Lee added: “I didn’t think it was really going to do that much. I thought she was going to raise a bit of money and help some homeless people, but I’ve seen the ripple effect right away.

“So many people have offered their clothes, time and money to Percy’s Homeless Hub.

“A lady told me on Facebook that she mentioned Naomi in her sermon – she’s a vicar – and she lives all the way in Scotland!” A spokesperson from Naomi’s school said: “Fundraising in our school is very important and throughout the year the children raise money for various charities.

“The children have been very imaginative in this new project run by our PAF association and we are so very proud of how Naomi has widened the scope of her fundraising to help our local community.”

According to CHAIN, from October to December Croydon had 87 rough sleepers, which is the third highest in London’s Outer Boroughs behind only Lewisham and Wandsworth who have 88 and 91 respectively.

Croydon received the highest funding allocation of £1,703,733 out of Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Lewisham as part of the government’s Rough Sleeping Initiative for 2021-2022.

It was the 21st highest allocation out of the 319 organisations that were included in the initiative.

More recently, on 22nd February the government announced it would repeal the Vagrancy Act, which criminalised homelessness.

Featured images credit: Lee Townsend

Source: SW Londoner