London’s homeless population has more than doubled in the five years between 2010 and 2015, rising from 3,673 in 2009-10 to 7,500 in 2015. As we inch closer to Christmas, London’s Euston station will have tables set up for a traditional Christmas dinner for 200 of its rough-sleeping population.
Two homeless charity organizations St Mungo’s and Streets Kitchen have teamed up with Network Rail to serve this warm festive dinner in the concourse of Euston station. “Many people become homeless because of relationship breakdowns so Christmas can be a particularly lonely time for some of our residents,” said Beth Norden, community and events manager at St Mungo’s.
Streets Kitchen’s member Jon Glackin described this partnership as a “shining example” of local businesses, community groups and individuals coming together during Christmas to help people in need. Other than the Euston station Christmas dinner, St Mungo’s is running more than 300 projects across the UK, providing shelter and giving a hand to more than 2,700 rough sleepers. Streets Kitchen feeds 1,000 homeless people per week.
Nottingham is also celebrating Christmas with vending machines for its rising homeless or rough-sleeping population of more than 400. The vending machine is provided by Action Hunger, a UK-based charity organization, providing 24/7 access to fresh fruits, sanitary towels, socks and more. The Friary, a Nottingham-based charity organization and outreach center, has partnered with Action Hunger in Nottingham to oversee people’s access to the vending machine using their special key cards.
Around 307,000 people are now categorized as homeless in Britain. In 2016, the British House of Commons found that homelessness across the country was “undoubtedly” increasing. “The most visible form of homelessness is rough sleeping, with people sleeping in and living on the street, in parks and in shop doorways,” reads their statement. “However, there is also a significant number of people who are homeless but are in temporary accommodation and night shelters, or rely on a series of short-term arrangements and the kindness of friends and family.”