“You never forget your first night,” said a homeless man in criticism to Ben Judah in the book “This is London”. The book was a work of reportage on London’s down and out population published in January of 2016. “The first night is the worst night,” said one homeless man to KCW Today. “Abandon all hope all ye out here!” he exclaimed for the amusement of his fellows.
Most people cannot imagine the sense of hopelessness that overcomes those who have become homeless. The first night is pure anger and despair which simply continues to get worse until all hope is utterly abandoned. But according to the Mayor’s office, there is hope.
In June, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan published City Hall’s first ever Plan of Action to tackle rough sleeping, demanding the Government invests £574 million over five years to provide a long-term, sustainable route off the streets for all rough sleepers in the capital.
The plan comes as the most current official statistics for 2017-18, show a drop in the number of people sleeping rough in the capital for the first time in a decade. According to a Press Release from the Mayor’s office released in June; 7,484 people were seen by outreach workers in London compared to 8,108 in 2016/17, an eight percent decrease.
Sadiq already spends £8.45 million a year on services tackling rough sleeping, including outreach teams who work day and night to find people sleeping rough, No Second Night Out hubs to help new rough sleepers, and two teams supporting rough sleepers once they move into accommodation. Last year, 87 percent of people helped by Mayoral services left the streets.
With his No Nights Sleeping Rough taskforce, Sadiq has continually lobbied Government for more funding. In bids announced this month, London successfully secured an extra £11.1million for rough sleeping services, of which £3.3 million will be directly managed by City Hall.
The Mayor’s new Plan sets out the immediate action he will take with his current powers and resources to expand his pan-London services for rough sleepers. It also sets out the investment the Government must make to be able help everyone off the street, and urges Ministers to stop ignoring the root causes of homelessness.