Charity pleads for donations as UK homelessness rates rise again

Written by on 14th December 2023

A North East homelessness charity is asking the public for donations once more at this “joyous and sad” time of year.

Snow falling on presumably homeless people’s tents in Nelson St, Newcastle upon Tyne city centre Credit: Washington Imaging/Alamy Live News

Latest figures from the St. Mungo’s charity have shown that the number of rough sleepers in the UK has reached an “all-time high”, with the number rising by 26% since the start of 2023.  

The figure represents a 74% rise since the start of 2010, as homelessness continues to affect the nation, with 17% of people knowing someone who will be homeless this Christmas. 

And with the festive period coming around again, one homeless charity has spoken about the impact that the public’s donations have on those living on the streets. 

The People’s Kitchen is one of the many charities in the centre of Newcastle that helps to provide hot meals, as well as welfare support, showers, books and some clothing to those who are living rough.  

Colin Herron, a team leader at The People’s Kitchen with 14 years of experience, said: “This may seem flippant but like the puppy advert which used to say, ‘a puppy is not just for Christmas but for life’, in the same vein, homelessness is not something that just happens at Christmas but all year. 

“Christmas brings a focus, as it also comes with bad weather, which makes people think of the level of consumerism at Christmas and those who have nothing.  

“Also, like shops, charities like ours raise a significant portion of our running costs at Christmas for which we are extremely grateful, as we get no public funding to deliver some 300 meals a day.”

The Peoples Kitchen in Newcastle upon Tyne provides food for homeless and other needy people. Credit: Alamy

Mr Herron has also spoken about just how much the public’s donations help those who aren’t “visible” in society. 

He explained: “The People’s Kitchen has no staff but volunteers, so all money raised goes to those who need it. 

“Every day we need some 30+ volunteers to just cook and open the doors, and it is not just food, we provide welfare support, showers, books, and some clothing.  

“In short with no volunteers or donations, the doors do not open.  

“Christmas is a focus which is both joyous and sad as many of the people we help have nobody and when they leave the People’s Kitchen after lunch on Christmas Day, they will simply find a safe place to sit and hope it is not raining.  

“That is the reality of living on the streets and out of opening hours, without the Central Station or the RVI there are no public toilets available.” 

A statement from Sunderland City Council said: “The City Council adopts an approach to ensure potential rough sleepers are accommodated during periods of severe weather via their Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP). 

“This operates in periods of bad weather, generally cold weather in the winter, but it can be operated during extreme heat or stormy conditions. 

“SWEP aims to prevent rough sleeping during severe weather incidents and when night-time temperatures go below zero. 

“Accommodation is provided until severe weather has passed and during this time staff will work to move people on to more appropriate accommodation.” 

The People’s Kitchen run the ‘Feed a Friend For a Fiver’ campaign for those who wish to donate and to find more details about ways to donate or volunteer, visit 

Or, to get help for anyone sleeping rough, the Sunderland City Council offer support via their Housing Options team on 0800 234 6084, or through the Streetlink website. 

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