Local Authorities’ street counts, and estimates show that 4,266 people were sleeping rough in England on a single night in autumn 2019. In Autumn 2019 London accounted for 27% of the total number of people sleeping rough in England
The South East accounted for the next largest percentage of rough sleepers with 21%. London and the South East are the only regions to have a rough sleeping rate that is higher than the England rate.
In Kent, every Christmas, Time for the Homeless, which is a local charity that covers Maidstone, and some parts of Medway hosts a Christmas Day meal for the homeless. The festivities usually take place at a local venue in Maidstone.
The challenges of 2020 have had effects on everybody, but for some it meant the loss of homes for various reasons which resulted in the increased need for charities such as Time for the Homeless.
The increased numbers that required the services of the charity has put a strain on their resources and it was brought to the attention of East Kent Freemasons - Maidstone Group 5 Chairman, Roy Brooks.
A conversation between Roy and Marie Jordan from the Charity took place to ascertain what assistance the Freemasons of East Kent could provide.
Marie asked if East Kent Freemasons could provide any Christmas food items to help them provide a Christmas dinner to some of the 55 homeless individuals and low-income households that they were supporting.
Roy contacted members in his area asking if they could help in providing any of the items requested by the charity.
A Covid-19 secure drop off and collection point was arranged in the car park of the Maidstone Masonic Centre in Tovil on the 12th Dec between 10.00am and Noon.
At 9.45am, there were already Freemasons waiting to make their donations, over the next 2 hours the cars kept arriving with the donations of food and other items including clothing and toiletries.
One Freemason kindly donated 45 brand new pairs of Thermalite Gloves and 45 brand new Thermalite beanie hats along with 50 boxes of Roses, Quality Street and Heroes.
While another, a landlord of a public house local to Maidstone, donated catering packs of meat, vegetables, sauces, tea, coffee and soft drinks. In addition to all of the other individual donations. the prohect also had a truly awesome response from the Freemasons of Maidstone, West Malling, Cranbrook, & Paddock Wood.
The Fleur de Lis Lodge No 8969 donated £290.00 which will assist the Charity to continue their work through the worst of the winter months.
So much was donated that 2 carloads were sent to Wateringbury Village Fridge Food Bank.
Roy said, 'It just shows with a little determination to help someone, can have a great effect on peoples lives.'