Christian charity London City Mission is responding after frightening statistics revealed the number of people living on London’s streets is the highest it has been for two years.
The charity primarily serves the homeless from its Webber Street Day Centre, close to Waterloo Station. The centre has been operating since 1962, giving out 10,000 breakfasts and 2,000 showers to its guests each year, as well as providing food and other urgent support including access to medical care.
The government recently announced a new £66m fund to support rough sleepers this winter after the London Combined Homelessness and Information Network revealed the number of people deemed to be ‘living on the streets’ between July and September this year was 425 – up from 395 in April to June. It is the highest figure since October to December 2019. Michael Gove’s Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities have responded with three new funding packages for councils and community groups.
London City Mission CEO Graham Miller said:
The statistics around homelessness are alarming and it’s tragic that the numbers of people living on the streets in London are increasing. At London City Mission and in particularly our Webber Street Day Centre, we aim to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of guests, as well as the physical ones, to help restore dignity that life on the streets has taken from them.
Webber Street is a place where men and women can experience God’s love through the patient care of dedicated staff and where those with addiction issues can feel safe and secure. We consider it a privilege to carry the amazing news of Christ’s love to those who need it the most.
The charity said the average life expectancy for the long-term homeless is only 44 years, and on any night in London as many as 300 people sleep rough, hence the charity’s passion in this area.
London City Mission has continued to reach many with the gospel across the capital despite the pandemic, delivering 4,000 food parcels and holding 1,200 online Bible studies.
On November 20, dozens of London City Mission supporters and staff will take part in the Big Winter Sleepout, where they will sleep outside for the night across the city to raise funds and awareness for the Webber Street centre. This year’s event will be live-streamed.
Daniel Douglas is a former gang leader who is now a member of the London City Mission team. He said:
A lot of the guys who come to us have substance abuse problems – crack and heroin – I too lived in that world. These are guys I used to sell drugs to – now I’m here serving them teas and coffees. Jesus is incredible. He has completely turned around my life and now I want to take the message of his love and power to others.
Pancho Miller, who works at Webber Street Day Centre, said:
The centre is close to Waterloo station where lots of people regularly sleep. Our heart breaks for them as we think of them having to spend these cold nights on the streets, especially in the run-up to Christmas.
For hurting people on the margins of society, there are huge social barriers to hearing a gospel message of God’s grace and mercy in a way they can easily understand. Practical help and genuine care are essential in creating an environment where healing and restoration of the whole person can take place.
Christians are being asked this winter to support London City Mission’s Big Winter Sleepout and contribute to the work of the Webber Street Day Centre project. For more information, visit www.lcm.org.uk.
Written By: Matthew Murray