Longstanding Leeds charity asks for help during Coronavirus crisis

A longstanding Leeds-based charity that supports homeless and vulnerable people across West Yorkshire is facing an uncertain future due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused nearly all its fundraising events to be cancelled at a time when increasing numbers of people are relying on its help.

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

Simon on the Streets, which celebrated its twentieth anniversary last year, 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 are also currently 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.

“We are explaining to homeless and vulnerable people why it’s 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. 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. As an independent charity we rely solely on fundraising events, as well as our supporters and corporate sponsors, to survive, but nearly everything has had to be cancelled, which is really having an impact on our finances and how we work.

“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.

“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.