A homeless shelter in Hackney hosted its first-ever sleep out last Friday to raise money to help keep people off the streets.
People supporting Hackney Night Shelter, which has been providing help to homeless people for over 25 years, gathered sleeping bags, soup and lanterns to sleep outside St John at Jerusalem Church for a night.
This morning the charity announced they surpasses their £30,000 target. The money will go towards keeping their 26 capacity shelter open 365 days a year.
Pratik Vadgama, who was at the sleep out, told ELL: “Homelessness is such a terrible problem around anywhere in London. We live in such a rich country and there’s so much homelessness.”
Together with his nine-year old son and partner, the family travelled down from Essex to support the charity and have raised £2,227.45 so far.
According to housing and homelessness charity Shelter, Hackney had the fourth highest rate of people who are homeless (living in temporary accommodation or sleeping on the streets) across the London boroughs in 2022.
A Shelter report from January this year estimated the borough had 7,555 people homeless and living in temporary accommodation arranged by the council. The number of homeless children living in temporary accommodation was estimated to be 3,781.
Mark Palframan, director of Hackney Doorways, the group which runs Hackney Night Shelter, told ELL: “Rough sleeping is a bit deceptive really… you get a few people who sleep in obvious spaces but most people are on night buses or hanging around railway stations.”
“There’s a cost-of-living crisis which is forcing a lot of people basically out of their homes because they can’t afford the rent and their landlords just arbitrarily put the rent up and it is such rubbish. It’s getting worse.”
Palframan also reflected on the recent changes in refugee legislation which is gives people with refugee status only seven days to find somewhere to live instead of the previous limit of 28 days.
“So suddenly we’ve got lots of referrals from people who’ve been given refugee status, which is rubbish. So, this winter is hitting very badly,” Palframan said.
Lesley Allan, who has been volunteering at the shelter since 2018, told ELL: “You can’t provide everything with a magic wand and conjure up perfect lives for people who are moving on, but you just hope they get to rebuild a life and that it’s a good one.”
“We don’t want them with us. We want them to have moved on to a more stable, secure accommodation, so we work with every single person and lots and lots of other agencies to help to do that.”
Molly Sermon, Volunteer Coordinator of Hackney Night Shelter, told ELL: “Our shelter is a very peaceful place with just people living there that shouldn’t be in that position, and they shouldn’t remember staying there…it should be a steppingstone.”
“It’s about just communicating to people to make them see how close [homelessness] is to home like it could happen to anyone…and we shouldn’t just be relying on charities to do this as well.”
“We’ve got a very small budget and we go year by year by keeping going, by doing what we’re doing because it is making a difference and you see the difference it makes to people.”