A new helpline is being trialled to allow rough sleepers in London to self-refer as part of Sadiq Khan’s efforts to tackle rough sleeping in London. The free advice line, which is being backed by £200,000 of funding, is available for rough sleepers to speak to trained call handlers and connect them to outreach workers.
The phone number is available at day centres and medical centres, as well as being given to rough sleepers by outreach workers and Homeless Link.
Last year, more than 5,000 of the capital’s rough sleepers were helped as a result of alerts from the public, according to the mayor’s office. However, the number of people seen sleeping rough on London’s streets has more than doubled in the past decade to 8,855.
Petra Salva, director of rough sleepers, ex-offenders and migrant services from St Mungos – which runs outreach services in north London and the GLA funded Lewisham No Second Night Out (NSNO) shelter – said: “Rough sleeping is harmful and dangerous, so it is vital that people get the help they need as quickly as possible and don’t spend second, third or more nights on the streets.
“This new pilot service will enable people who are sleeping rough or at risk to access the available support more quickly with the support of the London Advice Line team.
“Alongside referrals from concerned Londoners, this will help our and outreach teams and services be able to directly help more vulnerable people off the streets, out of danger into NSNO and other shelters, and on with their lives.”
The Mayor’s funding has also allowed StreetLink to develop a new StreetLink London homepage – giving Londoners the latest information about homeless outreach services in the capital and what they can do to help.
Funding for the new helpline and London homepage has come from the Greater London Authority and Bloomberg Associates, the philanthropic venture of New York’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg.
StreetLink is a website, mobile phone app and telephone service through which people can take positive action when they see someone sleeping rough by sending an alert that connects that person to local services for support.