"This could be our final year": Leeds homeless charity Simon on the Streets appeal for donations

Longstanding Leeds homelessness charity Simon on the Streets could fold amid a fundraising crisis brought about by coronavirus, its chairwoman of trustees said.
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The charity, which supports homeless and vulnerable people across West Yorkshire, celebrated its twentieth anniversary last year.

But nearly all its fundraising events have been cancelled due to Covid-19, at a time when increasing numbers of people are relying on its help.

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Simon on the Streets is now appealing to individuals and businesses to offer support by making monetary donations, as well as donations of hand sanitiser.

Charity Simon on the Streets is facing an uncertain future (photo: Simon on the Streets).Charity Simon on the Streets is facing an uncertain future (photo: Simon on the Streets).
Charity Simon on the Streets is facing an uncertain future (photo: Simon on the Streets).

The charity employs a team of six full time outreach workers who provide emotional and practical support to the homeless and vulnerable throughout Leeds, Bradford and Kirklees.

The team have also been advising homeless people on the precautions they can take to reduce the risks of contracting Covid-19.

Louise Lapish, chair of trustees at Simon on the Streets, said: “During this crisis, our work supporting homeless people is more important than ever and we are doing all we can to ensure the most vulnerable people in our society stay healthy and alive in these difficult times."

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She said the team had been explaining to people why it is important to try and keep their hands as clean as possible and how they need to stay at least two metres apart from other people if they can.

Louise added: "We are also helping them access emergency accommodation, delivering food parcels and water, giving out antibacterial products and offering emotional support.

Homelessness has risen significantly since Simon on the Streets was founded 21 years ago and this is undoubtedly the most challenging period we’ve ever faced."

The independent charity relies solely on fundraising events, as well our supporters and corporate sponsors, to survive.

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"Unfortunately, if things don’t improve soon, this could be our final year providing support to the homeless community and helping people get back on their feet when they often have nobody else to turn to," Louise said.

“Now, more than ever before, we need to make sure our service users are safe, especially because many have pre-existing health conditions, which puts them at particular risk from the Covid-19 virus.”

Louise added: “Many of our service users don’t have regular access to hot water, which makes hand sanitiser a vital tool to help people stay safe and it could be a life saver during this pandemic.

"If any retailers or other businesses have spare hand sanitiser, it would be very gratefully received and will make an immediate difference, along with any other financial support or donations, during this very difficult time.”

Anyone who would like to make a donation, or who wants further information about Simon on the Streets, should visit www.simononthestreets.co.uk or call 0113 3452270.