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New figures reveal the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s rough sleeping services have now helped almost 11,000 rough sleepers since the start of his mayoralty in 2016, with eight in ten leaving

the streets for good. 

Pioneering services set up by the Mayor include his Rapid Response outreach team and a new pan-London trigger for emergency accommodation when temperatures fall below freezing, as well as City Hall’s country-leading response to accommodating rough sleepers in the face of COVID-19. 

Throughout his Mayoralty, Sadiq has made addressing London’s homelessness crisis a personal priority. New official figures from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) show that between May 2016 and the end of February 2021, 10,921 people have been helped by services commissioned by City Hall, 80 per cent of whom have not been seen sleeping rough again. 

This has been made possible by the tireless work of the Mayor’s rough sleeping team with charities, health workers and local councils towards Sadiq’s aim of ending rough sleeping in the capital for good. 

Most recently this work has focused on the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 2,500 rough sleepers accommodated in GLA-provided accommodation as part of the ‘Everyone In’ programme. 86 per cent of those who passed through these hotels did not return to the streets. This was in part thanks to the Mayor’s ‘In for Good’ principle, meaning that once someone has accessed his rough sleeping services, they are accommodated until a support plan is in place to end their rough sleeping. 


‘In for Good’ has also been a key part of the Mayor’s development of his pan-London Severe Weather Emergency Protocols (SWEP), which co-ordinates councils across London, in association with homelessness charities, to open emergency accommodation for people who are sleeping rough during the worst weather conditions. Sadiq changed the rules around the activation of SWEP to ensure it could be used as soon as temperatures were forecast to drop below zero on a single night in any part of London, replacing the previous Mayor’s policy of SWEP activation only occurring after three successive nights of sub-zero temperatures. 

The Mayor has also launched new services to target the areas of greatest need and to help more rough sleepers to exit homelessness. The Rapid Response outreach team was launched by the Mayor in one London borough in May 2019 before quickly rolling out to a further 23 boroughs. The team’s primary aim is to quickly respond to referrals from StreetLink, and to connect rough sleepers to emergency accommodation options or services that can offer long-term support. It helps to find new rough sleepers and move them away from the street more quickly, frees up local outreach teams’ capacity to focus on working with people who have been sleeping rough long-term, reduces the amount of time rough sleepers spend on the streets, and provides a more consistent and coordinated local service across London. Since its launch, Rapid Response has contacted more than 3,000 rough sleepers, placing almost 1,600 directly into accommodation. 

Sadiq’s winter rough sleeping fundraising campaigns have raised more than £635,000 for 30 homelessness charities since 2017. The Mayor’s partnership with TAP London has enabled Londoners to give over 57,000 times at more than 100 contactless donation points across the city. The campaign has also contributed to more than 41,000 StreetLink referrals over the last three winters, with Londoners connecting rough sleepers directly to outreach teams. 

However, despite the huge success of his rough sleeping programmes to date, the scale of London’s rough sleeping crisis means Sadiq will continue to lobby the Government for the fresh funding needed to help everyone who finds themselves sleeping rough on London’s streets, and to combat the causes of homelessness. This includes campaigning for more investment in new council housing in the capital, and rent controls to bring down the cost of renting.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “We should be judged as a society by how we treat those in need, which is why I’m proud to say that during my time as Mayor, we have helped so many thousands of people off the streets and into the stable accommodation all Londoners deserve. Our outreach workers, charity teams, healthcare professionals and council staff are unsung heroes in this work and deserve our heartfelt gratitude.

“But the fact that we have had to help so many people off the streets, and that we still have so far to go to end rough sleeping in our city, is deeply concerning. It shows the danger of inadequate social security safety nets, a lack of affordable housing and the consequences of deep cuts to homelessness services since 2010. I’ll continue to campaign for Government Ministers to step up and show the scale of commitment to ending rough sleeping that we’re demonstrating in London.

“This milestone should also make us all more resolute to do everything we can to end rough sleeping in London for good.”

London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, Cllr Darren Rodwell said: “Tackling homelessness and rough sleeping remains a key challenge for London as we look forward to the post-pandemic recovery and boroughs are working tirelessly to support Londoners who find themselves without a roof over their heads. 


“Close partnerships between City Hall, charities, and boroughs’ services have helped bring thousands of rough sleepers off London’s streets, but we still face the most severe housing crisis in the country. If we’re to make faster and sustained progress on this vital issue, we urgently need the government to improve the welfare system’s ability to prevent homelessness and to give local homelessness services the long-term funding they require to make the most impact.”


Director of StreetLink, Fiona Colley said: “It is so important that people who have to resort to sleeping rough are offered effective and timely support, and we are proud to have worked alongside some excellent partners to play our part in moving so many people in the capital away from homelessness for good. 


“To ensure we can help even more individuals, we encourage members of the public to continue to send alerts to StreetLink when they see someone sleeping rough, to connect them to local support.”