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26 November 2018

Glass Door reports a rise in demand, echoing the findings of a new report showing the boroughs where Glass Door operates are among the worst for homelessness in Britain.

According to a report from Shelter released 22 November, 320,000 people are recorded as homeless. In the last year, the overall number increased by 13,000 people. This means one in every 200 people in Britain are homeless and sleeping on the streets or stuck in temporary accommodation, including hostels and B&Bs. In London, one in 53 is counted as homeless. 

Report from Shelter shows homelessness heat map

Three of the four boroughs in which Glass Door operates are ranked amongst the worst 18 areas for homelessness in the country.  In Kensington and Chelsea, the report indicates that one in 29 residents are homeless.  

"The numbers are shocking,” says Lucy Abraham, the Chief Operating Officer at Glass Door. “But behind the numbers are hundreds of individuals- each with their own story. Many are struggling against a backdrop of high rents, plummeting levels of social housing, and a deteriorating welfare system.”  Says Lucy: 

The rise in demand is reflected in our experience. More people than ever before trying to get a space in our winter night shelters.

The shelters opened for the winter on 5 November, and in the first two weeks, Glass Door experienced a 33% increase in the number of individuals looking for shelter compared to the same period last year. 

On any given night, up to 130 individuals can find a safe place to sleep inside a church hall partnering with Glass Door – from early November to early April -- across Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Richmond and Wandsworth. So far this year, 20% of the individuals staying in our shelters are women, with the youngest 18 and the oldest 71. 

“We operate in boroughs that we normally associate with high income levels, but statistically, these boroughs also have some of the largest gap between richest and poorest residents in the country,” notes Lucy.  

“No one should have to sleep on the streets of London in this day and age. At Glass Door, we are able to harness the resources in the community – free spaces provided by local churches and the good will of volunteers in the community, for example. We are heartened to find many people coming forward to help tackle this scandal of homelessness in our communities,” says Lucy.    

So far this year, the charity has provided shelter to three individuals in wheelchairs. 

"Thanks to swift action on behalf of the casework team, one of the wheelchair users was able to access temporary accommodation right away. But he’ll need ongoing support, which we will be there to provide,” Lucy says. Caseworkers work with their guests – as Glass Door refers to the men and women who access their services  – to find routes out of homelessness.  

Lucy adds: 

The challenge is that our work can feel like it’s never done. As soon as we shelter or rehouse someone, there are nine other individuals looking to fill that person’s spot.

"We are doing all we can, but we can’t do it alone. We are thankful for the support of many individuals, businesses and churches in the community,” says Lucy. 

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Read the full report from Shelter.