The Rise and Scale of Homelessness in the UK
Homelessness is a desolating issue that pervades every city in the UK.
Shelter states that there are currently over 300,000 homeless people living in the UK, a figure indicating an increase of 13,000 people in just one year. The CHAIN Annual Report for Greater London estimated that a total of 7,484 people were seen sleeping rough in London in 2017 – 2018. The increase in homelessness is a national crisis, approximated by homeless charities to have risen by 169% since 2010. The scale of the issue can be seen everywhere you go, from people begging on the street to the encampments cropping up all over the UK.
Homelessness is a very dangerous and isolating existence. Crisis state that homeless people are seventeen times more likely to be victims of violence, with more than one in three people sleeping rough saying they have experienced some form of violence whilst homeless. Homeless people are over nine times more likely to take their own life than the general public and have an average life expectancy of just 47. 597 homeless people are thought to have died in 2017.
Sadly, most charities believe that the statistics surrounding homelessness are grossly underestimated, with the true figures likely to be much higher.
In order to fine-tune our model and deliver it in the most helpful & efficient way, Curb Hunger has done some of our own research into the perception and attitudes surrounding homelessness. We conducted a survey of 1,000 people across the United Kingdom.
The vast majority of people we asked reported feeling guilt and discomfort when walking past homeless people. The most commonly stated reasons for this was feelings of guilt & empathy, or not carrying cash or items to give. The second reason feeds into our decision to make our machines double as contactless donation points. Since the introduction of contactless payment in 2007 this method now accounts for over one third of all transactions, with the amount of people carrying cash decreasing rapidly. Barclays state that charities will miss out on a possible £80 million in donations if they continue to rely on cash. Some organisations are already taking steps to remain operational in this cashless era. Contactless donation points are being introduced in Bristol to raise money for night shelters and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan launched contactless donation points across the capital over the winter where people can donate £3 to homeless charities. We found that people were very responsive to the idea of tapping to donate £2 and people were 77% more likely to donate to a charity rather than a homeless person – this may mean that we can generate donations from people who might not necessarily give to homeless people otherwise.
We found that the majority of respondents have noticed the national increase in homelessness and report feeling concerned about homelessness in their area. 87.5% of people do not believe that there is enough being done by the local and national government to tackle the issue. Through our research we wanted an insight into how our machines might be received by the public and we found that nearly 75% of people asked said that they would be in favour of a charity-run vending machine.
Undoubtedly the issue of homelessness is a huge problem in the UK and we believe that our model will be well received by the general public and successful in our mission of both helping the homeless directly and raising donations.