Rough sleepers in Croydon need “100% backing” from the council says Jack Percival, founder of the non-council funded Percy’s Homeless Hub charity, who is hosting the Big Feed event in the borough tomorrow.
While many council-supported spaces in the area take in homeless people, Percival told Eastlondonlines that “more consistent support” is needed.
The Trussell Trust, a charity that strives to end food poverty in the UK said yesterday: “Given the significant economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of people experiencing destitution is likely to have been even higher during 2020.”
Percival said: “[During lockdown] the council was taking a lot of people in, but I remember the day before lockdown, streets were suddenly getting busy again [with rough sleepers].”
This is part of the reason why Percival continued to operate the Percy’s Homeless Hub throughout the multiple lockdowns and changing tier restrictions in London by giving out meals on Wednesday nights and warm breakfasts on Saturday mornings.
Percival, who used to be a rough sleeper himself, set up Percy’s Homeless Hub three years ago along with the Big Feed event and said the charity has become more recognised across the borough with each year. He also added that this year, the Hub has received extra funding for the first time.
He told ELL: “It started off as 6 bottles of water and 6 sandwiches [in 2017]…It’s gotten bigger than I expected it to…but it’s really exciting.”
The Big Feed event is hosted in Croydon every year around the Christmas period. This year, for the first time, it is being held in an indoor space at Project B in East Croydon.
The event will give homeless people from the borough the chance to get a hot meal, snacks, sandwiches and an essentials pack, containing what they might need to get them through the winter break. All food and essential items were collected through a public donation appeal, which Percival started last month.
Percival told ELL: “At Christmas a lot of things tend to shut down, so we’ve been able to give them things like hand warmers, sleeping bags [and] tents to see them through the quiet period.”
“We’ve set a target for 100 people,” he added.
What both the Hub and the Big Feed event strive to offer is conversation and engagement with people to the homeless: “[Just] sitting down and saying ‘how are you doing?’ is so important. What these people need is a sense of community spirit.”
He added: “I work with a lot of the drug addicts, the alcoholics, [those] who often get left behind…I believe everybody has a heart and deserves a hot meal regardless.”