Croydon’s Labour MPs will be roughing it on Sunday night, as Steve Reed OBE and Sarah Jones take part in Croydon’s first Sleep Out.
They will be joined by councillor Alison Butler, as they give up their beds for the cold, hard floor of Boxpark in a charity fund-raiser organised by housing charity Evolve.
Sleep Out Croydon has attracted more than 150 participants determined to raise awareness of the issue of homelessness on the streets in Croydon, across London and throughout Britain.
Sleep Out Croydon is set to raise more than £30,000. The organisers say, “Every penny raised on the night will go directly to fund Evolve’s transformative work with homeless people.”
The charity provides housing and support to more than 2,000 people each year. Working with partners such as Crisis, Evolve has led on the “CR Zero 2020” initiative to end rough sleeping in Croydon. Anyone who regularly visits the town centre after 10pm will realise that Crisis and Evolve are struggling to achieve their target, as there has been a noticeable increase in the number of rough sleepers bedding down in Croydon over the past few months.
Reed, pictured left, the MP for Croydon North, has raised more than £1,000 for the charity by volunteering to sleep under Boozepark’s roof for one night. “There is a homelessness crisis on our streets with hundreds of people left to bed down outside,” he said.
“We can’t just stand by and watch things get worse, so I’m taking part to support Evolve who provide those in need with a safe place to sleep and the help they need to get their lives back on track.”
Evolve is calling on anyone interested in making a positive difference to homelessness to join Sleep Out Croydon.
“Together we can all make a positive impact to the lives of people who are faced with the constant, daily struggles of homelessness,” said Matthew Sims, the chief executive of the Croydon Business Improvement District, the lead sponsor of the event.
“We can’t just ignore it. In raising profile and much-needed funds for homelessness through activities such as Sleep Out Croydon, we are saying enough is enough. I am incredibly proud of the response shown by the Croydon business community in supporting the need to offer solutions to those who are homeless and on our streets.”
Jeremy Gray, Evolve’s chief executive, added a touch of reality about the nature of the event: “The experience will by no means replicate the tough conditions faced by people sleeping rough in London. However, it will mobilise local people and businesses to come together and raise funds to help support a lasting solution to homelessness.”
The Sleep Out will begin at 9.30pm on Sunday, with those participating receiving a cup of tea on arrival and some inspiring words from people with a lived experience of sleeping on the streets.
If you are interested in making a positive difference to homeless people through Sleep Out Croydon, there is a registration fee of £20 and those participating are required to raise a minimum of £175 in sponsorship – all of which will go towards supporting Evolve’s work with homeless people.
For more information and to sign up to take part visit: www.evolvehousing.org.uk
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Thanks for this article promoting our event this weekend! Just to clarify, CR Zero 2020 is a campaign to end chronic rough sleeping in Croydon, not rough sleeping. Chronic means people who have been sleeping rough for 6 months or more, and have physical health issues, mental ill-health, and drug and alcohol issues. We work with Crisis, LB Croydon, Thames Reach, Expert Link, Faith groups and National Housing Federation, and BID on this project. One of the outcomes of our work so far is the launch of the new Housing First service which you covered recently, this service provides a new way of supporting chronic rough sleepers into independence. Additionally the campaign has improved access to drug services in the borough, and we now have a new START Team (short term assessment and recovery team) who accompany the street outreach team and can provide on-street mental health assessments for rough sleepers in Croydon.
Seems a pretty petty distinction. Anyone who has to sleep rough is in a crisis, and ought to be deserving of what help is available.
Are you saying that your project – and this fund-raising – won’t be used to help someone if they have been sleeping rough for “only” a week? Or “only” five months?
And what have you done to ensure that one of your partners, Thames Reach, which receives grant funding from the Home Office, isn’t conducting more of its “hostile environment” work and turning over some of their homeless clients to the immigration service for repatriation?
Have you approached your partners in Sunday’s stunt to see whether you can establish a floating shelter in Boxpark every night of the week, for the genuinely homeless, “chronic” or otherwise, rather than a handful of people available for a cup of tea, a “breakfast bun” and a photo-op?