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Glass Door has been operating emergency winter night shelters for over 20 years. We run the UK's largest network of night shelters for people experiencing homeless. With 6th December marking one month into this years season, we’re highlighting the stark reality of what you might already know; homelessness is on the rise in London and we are seeing a significant increase in the demand for our support. 

In the first week:

We launched our emergency night shelter service on Monday 6th November, offering 105 spaces per night across three shelters in West & Southwest London. We have 45 shelter staff, 425 volunteers and a year-round Casework and Operations Team delivering our shelter provision 7 days a week in each of the three rotating circuits. We offer a safe and warm place to sleep, a hot and nutritious meal and light breakfast every day for six months throughout the coldest part of the year. To read more about a night at our shelter, have a read of this story: A Night At The Shelter 

By day 10:

We closed referrals for our Men’s Shelter. 

In the first ten days, over 500 people we referred to our shelters, marking an 81% increase in applications compared to the same period last winter. Demand was so high that we made the tough decision to temporarily halt registration for men seeking shelter. 

The surge in applications, particularly among younger demographics with 44% of referrals under 35, highlights the escalating crisis of homelessness in London. The demand for shelter has far exceeded the capacity of charities like Glass Door to respond. 

In the first month of our shelters being open: 

  • We registered 638 guests of which 73% were men and 27% women 

  • Of those referred, 28% were UK nationals, 21% from the EEA and 51% from the rest of the world 

  • 85% of referrals were sleeping rough 

  • 232 guests stayed in the shelters, 85 women (37%) and 147 men (63%) 

  • The average stay was 11 nights 

  • Successful outcomes include 14 guests moving on to more permanent accommodation, 1 finding employment and 3 being connected with health services 

The alarming rise in homelessness in London is further exacerbated by the current socio-economic climate. At the forefront is the cost-of-living crisis, which has seen a steep increase in expenses especially heating, food and rents. 

Compounding this issue is the acute shortage of affordable housing. The city faces a significant disparity between the demand for low-cost housing and its availability, leaving many without viable options for housing. 

Another significant contributing factor to this crisis is the change in the move-on period for refugees who’ve received a positive decision from the Home Office. The new policy means that most refugees have only seven days to find stable accommodation – as well as employment and other access to essential services. 

With homelessness on the rise in London and the weather getting colder, we anticipate demand to continue over the course of our Christmas period and into the New Year.