A coalition of organisations, endorsed by the local council, is looking for 120 volunteers and local businesses to help tackle chronic rough sleeping in Croydon, as part of a scheme called CR Zero 2020.
Among London’s boroughs, Croydon has one of the highest numbers of people sleeping on the streets. Despite the availability of homelessness support services in Croydon, rough sleeping is rising.
Croydon is one of two local authorities in London that have adopted the End Street Homelessness Campaign. Unlike traditional efforts to reduce or manage street homelessness that only involve homelessness agencies, charities and the council, this campaign will be a community effort and we will find a community solution.
Based on work in the United States, the End Street Homelessness Campaign has proven that with concerted community action it is possible to end long-term street homelessness.
“There are several local organisations working in partnership on the CR Zero 2020 campaign including Crisis, Expert Link, Homeless Link and Thames Reach, with endorsement by Croydon Council,” said spokeswoman Alice Hainsworth. “We are looking for other local stakeholders, including people who live and work in Croydon and local business, to get involved with and support the campaign.”
One of the key organisations working on the scheme is Evolve Housing +Support, formerly South London YMCA. Evolve works in Croydon, Bromley, Lambeth and Kensington and Chelsea, providing more than 550 homes for vulnerable homeless people of all ages.
CR Zero 2020 begins with a “connections week” from Tuesday August 30, when local volunteers will be supported to go out on to the streets and get to know every homeless person by name. “We will gather information on who’s sleeping on our streets and what they need to successfully move into accommodation. This will culminate in a public presentation of the information on Croydon’s chronic rough sleepers in central Croydon on September 3.
“But this is just the start. After we know who’s out there, we need to work together to find solutions for each and every person. Ensuring homeless people are housed in permanent, safe, appropriate and affordable housing with the support necessary to sustain it, provides many challenges.
“For this reason we need a wide cross-section of people to get involved, both during and after Connections Week, to help us with those solutions in the long-term.”
Depending on how much time and what help you can give, there are many ways to get involved in CR Zero 2020, including:
- Raising awareness on social media by pledging your support for the campaign;
- Going out on to the streets and speaking to homeless people during Connections Week;
- Volunteering at our hub;
- Entering the data we collect about the people sleeping on Croydon;
- Helping us with the public presentation event; and
- Being part of the group looking at solutions to end chronic street homelessness in Croydon by 2020.
“We are also seeking gifts-in-kind and sponsorship from local businesses to enable us to run the campaign, including food and hot drinks for the rough sleepers and transport for volunteers,” Hainsworth said.
“CR Zero 2020 is an ambitious campaign, but we believe that by bringing local people together to find new solutions for chronic rough sleepers in Croydon, we can end the cycle of homelessness.”
Louisa Woodley, the council cabinet member responsible for social care, said, “On top of this council’s £30 million investment into a lettings fund and our new Gateway service that acts as safety net for struggling families, this campaign could be another big step towards not just helping Croydon’s current rough sleepers but also finding more long-term solutions for our borough.”
For more information on how you can get involved in the campaign or to sign up as a volunteer, please visit www.evolvehousing.org.uk
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