By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter
Kind-hearted volunteers have collected hundreds of sleeping bags and packs of toiletries to support homeless people this winter.
Layla Roche and her friend Nina McNeill collect winter supplies for rough sleepers every year.
And they head out with a team of helpers to distribute them in Hammersmtih and Fulham.
In previous years they have also given out 30 to 40 survival kits around Victoria railway station and more at Earl’s Court.
This year Ms Roche has been unable to do her job selling her craft goods at Portobello Market because of an underlying health condition and the pandemic. But she was determined to help again this year.
She said: “We started doing this about five years ago when we came across people walking around.
“It’s literally just the public wanting to help.”
She said the pandemic meant it was harder for people to find somewhere like a day centre to shelter inside.
She said: “I find it cold and freezing but I can come home and get a hot meal. It’s so much worse on the streets.”
She put out an appeal in Hammersmith and Fulham, and people bought sleeping bags, hats and gloves to donate.
The volunteers also give out toiletry kits, PPE, including face coverings, gloves and hand sanitisers, packs of food and pet food.
Ms Roche explained: “We raise this money by asking for donations on Facebook and have done a few sponsored sleep-outs in previous years, but due to the current situation haven’t been able to do that this year.
“But also due to the current situation and the awful time ahead we strongly believe that we need to do even more to try to help the many homeless people that are out there.
“And not only do they have the cold and awful weather, they are now fighting another battle with the Covid situation.”
The Government’s Everyone In scheme saw 15,000 homeless people across the country brought in off the streets in hotels and temporary accommodation to protect them from the virus.
In July the council reported that it found emergency accommodation for more than 275 rough sleepers and people at risk of rough sleeping and into good quality emergency accommodation. This included 52 people accommodated without recourse to public funds.
And a council spokesman said it has now accommodated 332 homeless people so far, including 63 with no recourse to public funds.
Hammersmith and Fulham council has been given £473,819 as part of the Government’s Next Steps support for the homeless.
Pictured top: The supplies ready for distribution
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