Rough sleeping has doubled in the past five years, so we are overjoyed to be working with BBC Lifeline on an appeal for an innovative rough sleepers’ project, called Street Buddies.
Street Buddies is a peer mentoring programme, based in Westminster, made up of volunteers who were once rough sleepers. They help people still on the street to make use of support services and build the confidence and skills they need to leave the streets for good. The programme provides opportunities for both the volunteers and the rough sleepers they help to transform their lives permanently.
Julia Bradbury will be presenting the appeal after recently appearing in the documentary ‘Famous, Rich and Homeless’, where she spent a week sleeping rough. Julia commented: “Sleeping rough was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done; life on the streets is lonely, exhausting, and you’re invisible. I’m delighted to support this appeal to help rough sleepers come off the streets and rebuild their lives.”
Street Buddies are trained to deal with substance misuse and mental health issues in order to keep themselves and the people they work with safe. One Street Buddy has even been shortlisted for this year’s Westminster Volunteer Awards, which recognises volunteers who improve the lives of others.
For Ken*, who had been on the streets for almost forty years, the idea that anyone could offer him a way out of homelessness seemed impossible until Street Buddies volunteer Gary, a former rough sleeper himself, spotted him.
Gary says: “In my job as a part of the Street Buddies team I am able to use my own experience when I make contact with rough sleepers. Ken had refused help from many outreach agencies, but once I won his trust I could work with colleagues to get him into one of our specialist care and support centres, where we could help him look at the support he needed.”
Church Housing Trust’s Director, Miriam Morris, added: “In spite of the success of Street Buddies in helping long-term rough sleepers, there is no government funding for the programme. Without donations from our supporters there would be no Street Buddies, now or in the future.
“We are very excited to have a BBC Lifeline appeal, and hope it will raise funds and awareness of this vital work.”
The appeal will be broadcast on BBC One on the 22nd May at 4.30pm, with a repeat on BBC Two on 25th May at 1pm, and a dedicated page on the BBC Lifeline website until 16th June: bbc.co.uk/lifeline
*Name changed to protect identity.