Anyone on a night out in London knows that homelessness is a very real, a very now problem. As well as exciting new restaurants and bars opening up every week, there are noticeably far too many souls sleeping on the streets. Local agencies report 8,096 people slept rough in London throughout 2015/16*. This is a six per cent rise on the previous year, and more than double the figure in 2009/10.
StreetSmart is a charity that aims to tackle this crisis head-on, with an annual fundraising initiative that takes place in participating restaurants every November and December. A voluntary £1 per table is added to diners’ bills, with the money raised supporting projects near the restaurant where the donations are made. It aims to provide comfort and hope to those in crisis with nowhere to call home, and enable those people to begin to rebuild their lives. Do check out the list of StreetSmart contributing restaurants in the area in which you are planning to go out – there are plenty of them including many likely to be at the top of your list.
The charity launched in 1998 and has raised £7.9 million, all from £1 donations; last year, £512,600 was raised from 525 participating restaurants. Those funds were used to support 30 projects across London aimed at tackling rough sleeping and the prevention of homelessness.
Last year the top earners for StreetSmart included the restaurant groups Harvey Nichols, MEATliquor and Polpo. Nick Jarman, General Manager at OXO Bar, Brasserie & Restaurant, says, “We’re pleased to be partnering with StreetSmart this year. OXO has supported the campaign since it began in 1998 and we’re very proud to be part of the initiative.”
100% of all the funds raised goes to support local projects StreetSmart takes nothing in administration. This is made possible by the support of Deutsche Bank, the charity’s corporate partner for 11 years, which pays all the costs associated with running the campaign. There is only a two person administration team in GlennPougnet and former Barbican resident Jennie Blouet.
Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Marcus Wareing described the initiative as “a fabulous charity that remembers the homeless at a time of year when we should be thinking of others.”
StreetSmart’s simple but effective way of working has garnered support from a number of names not only from within the industry, but also from the likes of Stephen Fry. “I have no hesitation in supporting and recommending the work of charity StreetSmart,” Fry says, “which is low in bureaucracy and high on delivering where help is needed. We may not be able to solve the question of homelessness but at least by doing something we, in some way, diminish its tyranny.”
You can do your bit by dining at restaurants in our area like St John, Chiswell Street Dining Rooms, The Jugged Hare, The Modern Pantry in Finsbury Square etc., who are participating in the initiative during November and December. Your £1 donation will go towards helping the homeless at this crucial time. You’ll know a restaurant is involved if there’s a StreetSmart card on your table or if one is presented with your bill when you dine.
A full list of the participating restaurants, hotels and the homeless projects funded and partners supporting StreetSmart can be found at streetsmart.org.uk.
*Rough Sleeping figures from Homeless Link CHAIN stats for 2015/16