As the nights grow longer and the temperatures drop, concerns have grown for Britain’s homeless population, particularly in light of the cost-of-living crisis and worries about a potential refugee homeless crisis.
Statistics from Shelter released at the start of the year found London to be the worst affected region in the UK, with one in 58 people recorded as homeless in the capital.
In Kingston, it is a problem that has worsened dramatically since the start of the year. The charity Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness (KCAH) said that demand for their services have increased 30% from the previous 12 months.
It is an increase that KCAH says “can be directly related to the cost of living crisis”, with increases in rent and other essential expenses making settled residence prohibitive for many.
Additionally, KCAH’s Dan Whittingham has noticed “a steady increase in approaches [to KCAH’s services] from those being discharged from Home Office support subsequent to receiving their Leave to Remain status”.
For those who find themselves facing homelessness this winter, KCAH will be operating a Winter Night Shelter from the beginning of December. It will have 30 beds available in Central Kingston. This is in addition to KCAH’s year round handouts of vital goods like sleeping bags, thermal layers, toiletries and new underwear/socks.
KCAH’s services are sustained by local authority funding, alongside grant funding, case-by-case assistance from local councillors, and individual donations.
For Kingston residents eager to help the local homeless population, Whittingham encourages setting up a monthly donation to KCAH – stressing that “even £5 a month makes a big difference”.
Additionally, people can fill a backpack with essentials and take it to Kingston’s St Peter’s Church Hall on London Road.
With Whittingham expecting a further spike in homelessness as Winter progresses, such donations could prove vital.