Homelessness helpline sees record call volumes
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities
Housing charity Shelter has said that its helpline advisers are currently taking almost 1,000 calls a month from Londoners facing homelessness, the highest call volumes it has ever seen.
With the number of callers at an all-time high, the charity is launching the biggest ever fundraising event in its 47-year history to help meet the growing demand.
Vertical Rush – the UK’s toughest tower-running challenge – is aiming to raise more than £500,000 in vital funds to support the Shelter helpline as it comes under increasing pressure.
Rising numbers of families are turning to Shelter for help as soaring housing costs in the capital and stagnating wages are leaving many more struggling to keep a roof over their heads.
The latest government statistics show that more than 4,400 households were declared homeless in just three months - a 13% increase on the same period in the year before.
Vertical Rush participants will race up the 920 stairs of Tower 42, the City of London’s original, iconic skyscraper on 4 March. The money raised will go towards helping more families facing homelessness, like Julia and her four-year-old son. They were made homeless after a flood in their rented home made the property uninhabitable, and they couldn’t find anywhere else they could afford to live.
Julia and her son had to live in an emergency B&B in Croydon. Julia said: “When we were at the B&B I had to share a bed with my son, and we had to eat our meals on the bed or on the floor. It was so scary not knowing how long we were going to be in the B&B and what would happen to us next.”
After living in the B&B for more than three months Julia called Shelter for advice. The charity was able to help them secure more suitable temporary accommodation.
Julia continued: “I found out a lot through Shelter and if didn’t have that, I wouldn’t have known what to do. Thanks to Shelter, we can start getting our lives back on track now.”
Campbell Robb, Shelter chief executive, said: “In these tough times, where everyone’s budgets are under coming under enormous strain, it can take just one thing to tip any one of us into a downward spiral that could put our home at risk.
“More people than ever are turning to Shelter for support when the worst happens. But with demand so high, the heart-breaking fact is that at the moment we just can’t help everyone who needs it.
“That’s why we’re looking for Londoners who are up to the challenge of racing up one of London’s most iconic skyscrapers. It’s a heart-racing opportunity for all of us to get fit and raise vital funds to give families the lifeline they need to keep their homes.”
Barry Rushmer, general manager of Tower 42, added: “Vertical Rush is London’s original tower running challenge and remains the biggest event of its kind in the capital’s calendar, with 2014 set to be the biggest fundraiser yet. The charity’s work has never been more critical so we are delighted to be hosting the event for the sixth consecutive year.”
The charity is urging Londoners to sign up now to run Vertical Rush by visiting www.shelter.org.uk/verticalrush