Local community rallies together to help those on the streets At the beginning of July, we ran out of sleeping bags. This was a tragedy. It meant that our cupboard – which, in December, was full to bursting thanks to the festive generosity of our supporters – had been run dry within a matter of months as a result of the heart-breaking number of people sleeping on the streets of High Wycombe. It breaks our heart every time we have to give someone a sleeping bag, because we’d much rather see them holding the keys to a home. – Wycombe Homeless Connection We called out to our followers on social media, asking local individuals to help those who have no choice but to sleep rough. Within a matter of days, we were receiving anonymous packages and, sure enough, our compassionate community was rallying together to provide the sleeping bags we so urgently needed. We’re saying a huge thank you to everyone who shared our post, to the anonymous folks who donated hundreds of pounds in sleeping bags, and to Wycombe Islamic Society, whose congregation gave during Friday prayers. Our cupboard has a healthy stack of sleeping bags again! – James Boultbee, CEO Wycombe is facing record-breaking levels of rough sleeping. Although the South East of England – known for having the highest number of rough sleepers of any region outside London – saw rough sleeping decrease by 17% between 2017 and 2018, rough sleeping in Wycombe rose by a whopping 71%. Figure 1 Wycombe Homeless Connection presents number of rough sleepers in Wycombe since 2010, based on the Government's annual statistical release. Our urgent appeal for sleeping bags is just one symptom of Britain’s housing crisis. The nationwide deficit of social housing, the impact of welfare reforms and the state of the private rented sector are all contributing to the fact that at least 320,000 people are homeless across the UK. Although tackling homelessness is the focus of my every working day, I never fail to be shocked by the number of vulnerable people experiencing the trauma of poverty right on my doorstep. Every year, over 500 local people come to us for help, and each individual has a unique story to tell. – Helen Biggerstaff, Support Team Manager Wycombe Homeless Connection has been tackling homelessness in High Wycombe since a group of local churches got together in 2007 to open the first Wycombe Winter Night Shelter. With a particular focus on resettlement and homelessness prevention, the charity’s person-centred approach aims, not only to mitigate the harms of homelessness, but to help people avoid it in the first place. If you’d like to join the local community in fighting homelessness in High Wycombe, we are seeking golf enthusiasts, keen cyclists and hardy souls for this year’s Big Sleepout. You can also volunteer your time, make a donation, or at the very least follow us on social media (they have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). Thank you for helping us tackle homelessness in High Wycombe!