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The railway’s first contactless donation points at London Bridge and Charing Cross station have raised nearly £5,000 to help tackle the rise of homelessness in London. Network Rail and TAP London installed the donation points last year which has seen around 1,500 people donate.
The donation points are a joint venture with TAP London, a non-profit organisation who support a coalition of 29 charities including Shelter, Crisis, YMCA and a range of small local homelessness charities.
When points are tapped, £3 is automatically donated to 29 different homelessness charities, which can change the lives of homeless people across London. There are already 91 contactless donation points in the capital, but London Bridge, the UK’s fourth busiest station, was the first railway station to get a contactless point, followed by Charing Cross.
Staff at Southern region-managed stations also use an app called IRIS to record homelessness incidents. The app gives greater insight into the number of homeless people at stations and also prompts colleagues to refer homeless people to StreetLink, a charity dedicated to helping those living on the street.
StreetLink uses the information to assess whether the local outreach team should be sent, to offer support to the individual. Since July 2020, the app has been used 1,332 times and has given more insight into homelessness around our stations.
London accounts for around a quarter of the UK’s homeless population. Around 170,000 people are officially homeless in the capital, meaning that on average, one in every 53 Londoners are without a home.
Polly Gilbert, Co-founder at TAP London said: “With hundreds of thousands of passengers passing through London Bridge and Charing Cross every day, our partnership with Network Rail has been vital in increasing awareness of the TAP London initiative.
“We are delighted to celebrate Network Rail passengers’ dedication to supporting London’s homeless, and grateful to the 1,500 who have stopped to tap their card.
“With the need greater now than ever before, we are proud to say that 100% of all funds raised will be spent locally, supporting Londoners who find themselves in hard times.”
Nicole Cohen-Wray, stations director for Network Rail Southern region, added: “Sadly, our stations are often seen as a place of safety for homeless people who are often looking for warmth, light and shelter. We are delighted to support initiatives that help to combat homelessness and proud to have hosted the first Tap London donation machines in our stations at London Bridge and Charing Cross.
“Our passengers have given generously, despite the pandemic, and will be pleased their donations have been used to help some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Donations have been used in a variety of ways, from providing safe rooms for young people, to skills training to help individuals back into work.
“We still have more to do, but passengers can help make a real difference to the lives of those who are homeless by ‘tapping’ when travelling through London Bridge and Charing Cross stations.”
Every penny of the donations will be split equally between the 29 charities within the London Homeless Charities Group, which include small local charities, as well as Shelter, Crisis and YMCA. The money will be spent on providing essential services in London, helping rough sleepers to cope with the day-to-day, but also forge a path away from life on the streets.
David Wornham, Passenger Services Director for Southeastern, commented: “As a train company, we want to do everything we can to support the communities that we serve, so supporting contactless donation, especially when fewer of us are carrying cash during the current circumstances, is just one small way in which we can help raise funds for those who need it most.”
Chris Fowler, Customer Services Director for Southern and Gatwick Express, said: “I’m delighted that this fantastic initiative has been so successful, thanks to the generosity of rail passengers. It’s a great way to help people in need – very easy to give, and every last penny helps well-established charities to provide immediate support and longer-term care. Homelessness is a significant issue for society, and we are proud to be the first train company to have signed the rail industry’s homelessness charter, with the ambition to break the cycle of homelessness and end rough sleeping for good.”
Photo credit: Network Rail
This article first appeared on www.railbusinessdaily.com
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