How World’s Big Sleep Out will help Thames Reach end street homelessness
Bill Tidnam, Thames Reach’s Chief Executive, discusses how our involvement in World’s Big Sleep Out contributes to our mission of ending street homelessness
Thames Reach have been selected as one of the partner charities and beneficiaries of World’s Big Sleep Out. Aimed at tackling homelessness, this mass participation event will see thousands of fundraisers sleep out in 50 cities across the globe including London on Saturday 7th December 2019. The London event will be split across two sites, Trafalgar Square and The Kia Oval, and will feature entertainment from leading musicians, as well as a ‘bedtime story’ from Dame Helen Mirren. Thames Reach Chief Executive Bill Tidnam discusses the crucial work of our Hard to Reach Fund, which will receive support from the event.
Most of the services that Thames Reach provide are funded by local and regional authorities, where we work to a contract that specifies what we will do, with whom, how we will do it and how much we will be paid. Over the last ten years this latter figure has got gradually tighter, to the extent that it barely covers the cost of running a hostel, or providing help for people to stay in their tenancy, or for us to go out and find people who are sleeping rough and get them inside.
Homelessness isn’t just about having nowhere to stay- it’s also about being on your own and having no-one on your side, and it’s about feeling that you are worthless and have nothing to offer. Government funding is welcome but it doesn’t pay for the cost of helping people improve their literacy or do a course; the cost of turning a flat into a home after a period on the streets; or pay for fares to reconnect with family. It also doesn’t pay for us to help people move from using services to delivering them as volunteers; or for the cost of buying buildings to provide affordable accommodation so that people can avoid homelessness and stay in work.
One way that we deal with this is by using something that we call the ‘Hard to Reach’ Fund. Over the last couple of years we’ve been able to help people move away from homelessness by helping them buy the things that will help them move on with their lives, so furniture and cookers; but also replacement documentation, so that they can get back into work; training courses and transport to get there; as well as things as basic as a pair of shoes.
That’s why we are part of the World’s Big Sleep Out: It puts a spotlight on the human crisis of homelessness in London and elsewhere; and it provides an opportunity to raise money that will make a real difference to the people we work with.
World’s Big Sleep Out is taking place on 7 December. Events are taking place across the world, including Kia Oval and Trafalgar Square. If you’d like to take part or know more, check out the official website.