Network Rail staff support Routes out of Homelessness for World Homeless Day 2021

This Sunday 10 October, Network Rail staff marked World Homeless Day by supporting Routes out of Homelessness.

The five-year partnership with charities Crisis, The Big Issue Foundation, End Youth Homelessness, Railway Children and Shelter aims to raise £250,000 to help end homelessness and raise awareness of the issue amongst staff and commuters alike.

What is World Homeless Day?

World Homeless Day, held every year on 10 October, is not a cause for celebration but a moment for all to reflect on the indignity and instability of homelessness, which affects countless families and individuals around the globe. Having a home gives us the stable base we all need to thrive, and this basic human right is still being denied to too many.

The injustice of homelessness is nowhere more stark than here in Great Britain, where:

  • at least 200,000 households are estimated to be experiencing the worst forms of homelessness, such as sleeping rough, residing in unstable accommodation such as B&Bs and shelters, or squatting (Crisis)
  • 121,000 young people approached their local authority in 2019-20 because they were homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless (End Youth Homelessness)
  • 1 in 6 young runaways end up sleeping on the streets for at least one night (Railway Children)
  • An estimated 1.5 million people are crammed into England’s overcrowded social homes – an increase of 44% in the last five years (Shelter)

The statistics are a sharp reminder of the reality faced by so many in Great Britain today, and of the urgency of working together to help make homelessness a thing of the past.

What are Network Rail doing?

This year, Network Rail staff are raising vital funds in recognition of World Homeless Day, for example by taking part in a London-wide ‘Fun Run’. Starting at London Bridge station, 5 runners from Network Rail completed a route encompassing five of the capital’s major stations in less than three hours, concluding the event at Clapham Junction. To date, Network Rail's Southern Region has raised over £4,000 in support of the five charity partners!

Additionally, over the past week Shelter volunteers have been at Manchester Piccadilly and Birmingham New Street stations speaking with commuters about the impact of the housing emergency and collecting donations to support Shelter’s work to end homelessness.

What’s been achieved so far?

Since the beginning of the Routes out of Homelessness Partnership in 2019, Network Rail have been working closely with the five charity partners to raise vital funds and spread awareness of homelessness amongst customers and staff.

To date, the Routes out of Homelessness partnership has seen:

  • 125 Network Rail staff sign up to donate to the five charities via payroll giving
  • £10,450 raised in Virgin Money Giving donations for the charities
  • £19,600 raised through the Network Rail Three Peaks challenge
  • £500 donated by commuters via bucket collections and Tap-To-Donate kiosks
  • Over £1.3 million donated in kind, in the form of advertising space for the five charities

Since October 2020 two pilot programmes, in Manchester Piccadilly and Birmingham New Street stations, have been delivered by Shelter outreach teams to help connect vulnerable people with the support services they need to leave homelessness behind for good. Since the start of the programme:

  • there have been 219 referrals made to local agencies
  • 113 people have been supported into accommodation
  • 26 Network Rail staff have also been trained to deliver support to people who are rough sleeping in and around the stations.

In the same month, the five charity partners and Network Rail signed the Rough Sleeping on Rail Charter. Chief Executive Andrew Haines was joined by transport secretary Grant Shapps and British Transport Police assistant chief constable Charlie Doyle to sign the first pan-industry homelessness charter at London Paddington station as part of the organisation’s commitment to the Routes out of Homelessness partnership.