Tackling UK homelessness

20th December 2016

At this time of year it can be particularly difficult for people who are homeless. Comic Relief has been funding homelessness organisations across the UK for more than 20 years. Our range of projects help the young and old, and tackle homelessness in a variety of ways. Some meet homeless people’s immediate and long-term needs, whereas others focus on preventing at-risk people from becoming homeless in the first place. Below are just some examples of the projects that we fund.


83,000 young people experience homelessness every year in the UK, and the number of young people rough sleeping in London has doubled since 2010.

Centrepoint is a leading London-based youth homelessness charity that Comic Relief has been supporting since 1985. Our most recent grant is helping the charity to develop a combined sports, life skills and volunteering programme for homeless young people in the capital, helping them to progress towards independent living. In partnership with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust (DKHLT), young participants with sporting potential are also given opportunities to join teams, train and be mentored by sports professionals, including former and current Olympians.

Thames Reach

The number of older people sleeping rough in London rose by 22% between 2012 and 2015.

Thames Reach is a London-wide charity that supports homeless and vulnerable people to find accommodation and rebuild their lives. Comic Relief awarded the charity a grant to employ an Older People's Champion and a peer support team, who work with the local council and older rough sleepers to help them leave street homelessness and find suitable accommodation. The project also trains frontline professionals to help prevent at-risk older individuals from becoming homeless in the first place.

Booth Centre

The number of people rough sleeping in Manchester has increased tenfold since 2010.

Booth Centre in Manchester provides immediate support at its day centre to the most vulnerable homeless people who are experiencing abuse, violence and/or exploitation. Comic Relief awarded the organisation a grant to employ a specialist support worker to help vulnerable homeless people move into safe accommodation, access appropriate support services and increase their confidence and self-esteem. The project also provides personal safety training, helping service users to avoid further abuse.

Shelter Scotland

Family relationship breakdown is a key cause of youth homelessness in Scotland. For two-thirds of homeless young people in Tayside, family disputes caused them to run away from home.

Comic Relief awarded Shelter Scotland a grant to provide a family mediation and housing service for at-risk young people in Tayside, helping to improve family relations and prevent youth homelessness. The project also offers peer mentoring and is establishing a youth advisory panel to ensure young people are engaged in the service, and their voices are heard.

Homeless Link

The number of people sleeping rough in England has more than doubled since 2010. With limited funding and housing options, single homeless people are often the last to receive statutory help. Rough sleepers are also more likely to have poor mental and physical health as well as alcohol and drug problems, making them more vulnerable to violence, exploitation and abuse. Often only intensive support can help them escape this desperate situation and integrate back into society.

Comic Relief has awarded Homeless Link a grant to develop and pilot an innovative housing model for England that has been hugely successful in both the United States and Europe. The model provides unconditional housing and wrap-around holistic support to help the affected individuals off the streets and establish safer, healthier and happier lives.

We can only fund all of these amazing projects, as a result of your amazing generosity, so we’d like to thank you for all of your support.

What else can you do to help?

If you’re worried about someone sleeping rough in England or Wales, tell StreetLink so that they can connect them to local support and services. You can let them know the person’s location on the StreetLink website, through their app, or on 0300 500 0914. There is also lots of helpful information for people who are at risk of or are homeless on homeless.org.

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