Over the past 25 years, one charity has used a simple opt-in method at some of the UK’s best restaurants to raise over £12 million in aid of targeted homeless support across Britain. The StreetSmart formula is simple enough: one pound per table is added to a diners’ bill during the months of November and December. That’s it.
Each year, the initiative raises considerable funds, usually totalling over £500,000 and for the participating restaurants, the set up and delivery of the scheme couldn’t be more straightforward.
Supported by LandAid, StreetSmart ensures that 100% of the money raised during this period goes towards local homeless initiatives, from Ace of Clubs in South London to Centrepoint Manchester: all the money raised goes directly to these partners.
The after-effects of the pandemic are far from a distant memory for Britain’s homeless. The vicious cycle of having no fixed or permanent address has knock-on consequences beyond a lack of physical security. For example, it can lead to an inability to set up a bank account, meaning receiving state support is nearly impossible.
Such challenges, coupled with the energy and cost of living crisis has only served to exacerbate the problem, with no-fault evictions, plus squeezes on universal credit and benefits all impacting homelessness. The problem of so-called ‘hidden homelessness’ – wherein people sofa surf but don’t sleep rough – has also risen, contributing to a 13% increase in total homelessness in the UK (figures are a challenge to confirm, as so many homeless people are entirely undocumented).
StreetSmart offers the chance for restaurants to engage with their local communities, supporting a wonderful charitable initiative in an easy-to-manage fashion. Fundraisers can often be labour intensive, but at a time when staff in restaurants are already busier than usual, the value of partnering with StreetSmart is that the legwork has already been done.
The voluntary £1 donation can be easily removed from the bill if requested. However, more often than not, the feedback from diners is overwhelmingly positive. In short, StreetSmart offers low-touch, high-impact solution which operates only at a very specific time of year.
“StreetSmart is an elegantly simple way to make a difference. It’s never been more vital and I’d urge every restaurant that can to sign up and support it.” Jimi Famurewa, chief restaurant critic at The Evening Standard