2,000 volunteers ask Cameron to do more for homeless people
More than 2,000 volunteers have signed a letter calling on the Prime Minister to ensure people get the help they need when they approach their local council as homeless.
The 2,097 volunteers voiced their shock that a homeless single person can approach their council for help and "still be turned away to sleep on the streets". Under the existing law most single homeless people are not considered a priority for housing. They should still get advice and assistance but too often this doesn't happen and they can be turned away with little or no help.
The move by the volunteers is part of homelessness charity Crisis' No One Turned Away campaign which is calling for a change in the law to improve single homeless people's rights to advice, assistance and emergency accommodation.
Mary Van de Water, who went to Downing Street to hand over the letter, said: "I've been volunteering for a quarter of a century now and I know the difference that volunteers and organisations like Crisis can make to the lives of homeless people. But that alone will never be enough - the Government can and must do more."
She was joined by a number of volunteers as the letter was handed over including Matt Brown who has volunteered over the last three years. He said: "I feel that volunteering is the least that I can do as a citizen in a city with so many homeless people. It is appalling that in 2011 someone who has been made homeless can ask their council for help and not be given any. I hope this letter will make David Cameron think about what more he could do."
Crisis is the national charity for single homeless people. No one turned away is a campaign to see the law changed so that all homeless people have a right to meaningful written advice, real assistance and emergency accommodation when they ask their council for help, wherever in the country they live.
Notes to editor
For further media information or to request an interview with a Crisis spokesperson, call 020 7426 3880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Crisis is the national charity for single homeless people. We are dedicated to ending homelessness by delivering life-changing services and campaigning for change. Our innovative education, employment, housing and well-being services address individual needs and help people to transform their lives. We are determined campaigners, working to prevent people from becoming homeless and advocating solutions informed by research and our direct experience. We have ambitious plans for the future and are committed to help more people in more places across the UK. We know we won't end homelessness overnight or on our own. But we take a lead, collaborate with others and, together, make change happen.
Crisis at Christmas
For 40 years, Crisis at Christmas has provided a warm, safe place to stay, a place of companionship and compassion for thousands of homeless and vulnerably housed people. Our guests have access to vital services and a warm bed, hot food and of course a Christmas dinner.
Crisis at Christmas not only provides immediate help for homeless people over this critical time, but it sets them up for a better year ahead. Guests receive healthcare, specialist advice on housing, work and benefits and encouragement to take up the opportunities to improve their lives with the training and support offered by Crisis through its Skylight centres in the New Year. http://www.crisis.org.uk/
‘No One Turned Away' Campaign
For information on the No One Turned Away campaign you can visit - http://www.crisis.org.uk/pages/no-one-turned-away.html
Full text of the letter
Dear Mr Cameron,
We are volunteers for Crisis, the national charity for single homeless people. Crisis at Christmas has provided vital services for homeless and vulnerably housed people for 40 years. Volunteers, like us, provide guests companionship, access to vital services, a warm bed and hot food at Christmas, as well as helping Crisis to provide services year-round.
While we should celebrate the lives helped and changed, it is a scandal that homelessness still exists and that we are needed at all. As vital as our work is, we know that to truly end homelessness the Government must take a lead. And that has to come from the top.
It is shocking that in the UK in 2011 a newly homeless single person can approach their council for help and still be turned away to sleep on the streets because under the existing law they are not considered a priority for housing. As the first place that many turn for help, councils are in a unique position to intervene early but far too often they fail to give that support, leaving people to spiral deeper into homelessness and costing individuals and the state dear. With homelessness rising, we need action now.
As Crisis at Christmas prepares to open its doors for the 40th time, there is a historic opportunity to make the reforms that single homeless people need. Our call is simple:
The law must be changed so that all homeless people have a right to meaningful written advice, real assistance and emergency accommodation when they ask their council for help, wherever in the country they live.
As Crisis volunteers we've been creating the Big Society for the last four decades. We're doing all we can to end the scandal of homelessness, but we don't want to be here for another 40 years. Please use your power to change the law so that every single homeless person is entitled to the help they need, when they need it, from their local council.