Innovative giving campaign offers opportunity to support homelessness charities with contactless

An innovative campaign backed by Sadiq Khan is using contactless technology to fundraise for homelessness charities and hopes to partner with businesses south of the Thames.

Since last month, TAP London has launched 53 donation points in businesses and on streets across central London.

The giving points have so far received more than £9,000 in £3 donations, which will go to a coalition of 22 local and national charities, however TAP is keen to partner with more businesses in order to spread across the city.

Co-founder Polly Gilbert said: “TAP is about trying to find a way to remove the barriers for people giving to homelessness and try and harness London’s generosity, making it more efficient and easy to give.

“You see people out on the streets constantly, yet nobody is sure what to do or the best way to help, and people are carrying less and less change.”

TAP currently has another 38 units ready to install, and is looking for cafes, bars, restaurants and retailers to host them.

Ms Gilbert and her co-founder Katie Whitlock quit their jobs to create the venture in 2017.

Sadiq Khan officially launched the first donation points two weeks ago outside City Hall in conjunction with his own rough sleeping campaign, which has so far raised £78,000, including donations made via TAP.

In a press release, he said: “Even one person sleeping rough is one too many, and it’s fantastic to see this year’s campaign get off to such a great start, with Londoners donating through the new TAP London contactless points and online.”

Since the campaign began a fortnight ago, Londoners have made more than 1,500 referrals on Streetlink, with 450 people expressing an interest in volunteering via the Team London website.

London’s mayor has talked tough on homelessness this year, pledging to double down on the issue and warning that the government’s controversial rollout of Universal Credit risked pushing Londoners into destitution.

Last night, his new policy that severe weather shelters will open city-wide in sub-zero temperatures came into force for the first time, which campaigners hope will provide less patchy care across the city.

The Mayor’s Office has also encouraged London’s boroughs to sign up to the ‘In For Good’ principle, which pledges that rough sleepers who go to these emergency shelters should be accommodated there until a long-term support plan is put in place for them.

Homelessness in the capital rose each year between 2013 and 2017, official figures from the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government (DHCLG) show.

On ‘a snapshot night’ in Autumn 2017 the DHCLG found 1,137 rough sleepers on the city’s streets, however last month Shelter estimated the number of people without a home in London to be more than 170,000, equating to one in 52 people.

Shelter said the true figure is likely to be far higher on account of ‘hidden’ homelessness, where people sleep on friends’ sofas, in cars and other temporary solutions.

The money raised via TAP is split evenly between 22 organisations in the London Homeless Charities Group, including Crisis, St Mungo’s and south west London-based Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness.

Ms Gilbert said every penny raised goes directly to the charities and all donations are spent in London.

A St Mungo’s spokesperson said: “People can be confident that their donation will provide real help for people sleeping rough.

“Each of the participating charities has nominated a project that will benefit from your support, [such as] providing assistance and advice, emergency accommodation, or the support people need over the long term.”

When asked if St Mungo’s would encourage the public to continue giving money directly to people on the streets alongside TAP donations, they said that while they cannot tell people what to do with their money, they can offer information to help people make a decision.

They can also advise on how to help out in other ways, like connecting vulnerable people to services via Streetlink, volunteering and campaigning.

Staff at the Gentlemen’s Barista, a London-based cafe franchise who have partnered with TAP, said their customers have responded positively to the initiative.

Abdula Jama, manager of its Borough Market shop, said: “So far for us it’s been fantastic to be partnered with them.

“Most of our regulars have already been donating and giving a lot of positive feedback that it’s easier for them to donate by tapping – most of the time they don’t have change.

“It’s an initiative that’s close to the heart.”

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