Islington business owners urged to lend their empty buildings to rough sleepers
Town Hall backs grassroots activist group
20 September, 2019 — By Emily Finch
Jon Glackin from Streets Kitchen, Sam Hadfield and Mark Brennan of Housing Justice
THE TOWN HALL housing chief has called on Islington business owners with empty buildings to lend their space to a homelessness organisation to house rough sleepers over the winter months – with the added benefit of not having to pay business rates.
Labour’s Cllr Diarmaid Ward has backed calls by grassroots activist group Streets Kitchen to help them find a new space following the success of last year’s shelter dubbed the Glass House.
The Glass House earlier this year
Cllr Ward said this week: “Everyone is affected by homelessness or being made homeless. You might have a friend who simply can’t afford to rent or buy in London or a neighbour affected by austerity. That’s why a business should come forward [to offer space]. If you are part of our community come together and help.”
He said the council, grassroots activist organisations and charities “all had a part to play” when it came to ending homelessness.
Councillor Diarmaid Ward
He praised last year’s winter shelter set up by Streets Kitchen and Housing Justice in a former glass factory which was converted into a suitable space through the help of 300 volunteers and countless donations.
“It wasn’t just somewhere to sleep. People who needed help to get back on their feet were given it. The whole community came together and all played their part whether that was organising film nights or different social events,” he said.
Jon Glackin, an activist who set up Streets Kitchen which offers free meals and support to hundreds of homeless people each week, thanked Islington Council for working with him and promoting their work.
“People are dying on the streets – we need a building as soon as possible. We can’t wait,” he said.
He said that businesses would not have to pay business rates for their space during the time it is a shelter.
“We will turn the space into a better place because we clean it to make it habitable. We can help businesses and this model works,” he said.
Last year’s building was provided by Finsbury Park firm Fitzpatrick Team Developments but they have now put the space up for auction.
“I am so thankful to them and everyone else who helped us create the shelter last year,” he added. Anyone with a suitable space should email: firstname.lastname@example.org