£25,000 raised for the homeless in Leeds following death of popular rough sleeper

A SCHEME which offers help to those in need on the streets of Leeds has raised £25,000 in just a few weeks '“ and hopes to reach £50,000 by Christmas.

The Big Change is a new way of offering vital help to the city’s homeless population.

-> The tragic stories of nine homeless people who died in Leeds recentlyIt will provide a one-stop platform where people can donate money, items and time to help the homeless, rough sleepers and associated vulnerable people.

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Andrew Cooper, chief executive of Leeds Business Improvement District, which is helping to co-ordinate the scheme, said: “The city has raised nearly £25,000 and it would be great if we can get over £50,000 by Christmas, both from public and corporate donations.

“It will make a massive difference to those in need on the streets of Leeds city centre. We have visited a number of businesses who are making Big Change their adopted worthy cause.”

The first major single donation of £10,000 came from the RFM Group. Other businesses getting behind the campaign include Boots, Shulmans and EY.

Fundraising events have included a quiz at Victoria Gate Casino, with a cake bake and a number of ‘reverse advent calendars’ underway, where people collect basic essential toiletries and other items such as hats, scarves and gloves each day of December.

Big Change aims to raise awareness, inform, educate and engage people in ways to help the vulnerable. It is hoped the scheme will provide an “alternative” way of giving support to trusted organisations who offer direct and effective help to some of the city’s most needy people.


-> Everything we know after death of homeless man in freezing LeedsLed by the Leeds Business Improvement District (BID) and Leeds City Council, the project brings together more than 45 third sector organisations in a single scheme.

The boost comes in the wake of the latest death of a rough sleeper in Leeds.

Tributes have been paid to the man, who is the eighth person who had been sleeping rough or staying in a homeless hostel, to die in the city in just over 12 months.

The man, who has not yet been identified, is known to have regularly slept out on the streets, but is thought to have died in hospital.

Charity Simon on the Streets paid tribute to him on their Facebook page: “Just received the tragic news that a long term rough sleeper in Leeds and one of our service users has passed away.

“He was a lovely man, well known to services and the public alike. RIP.”

Other tributes have poured in from the public on various social media platforms.

Meanwhile, the cold weather protocol was activated by Leeds City Council earlier this week. The authority opens up emergency shelters for the city’s homeless as the temperature drops to zero.

It means that beds are available for everyone sleeping rough if they choose to seek help to avoid life-threatening freezing conditions.

Donate to The Big Change: Visit www.bigchangeleeds.co.uk to make a donation and to see what support local charities are seeking.

Leeds homeless charity, Simon on the Streets, has launched a campaign to raise awareness of rough sleeping during the festive season.

In partnership with Imagine If Theatre Company, students from Leeds Arts University and MacComms PR agency, the charity has produced a short film ‘Christmas on the Streets’ to encourage the public to empathise with rough sleepers during the festive period.

The narrative of the film focuses on a homeless woman who shares a moment of nostalgia when a child passing by drops his brown teddy bear beside her. It takes her back to happy memories when she was a child, receiving a similar bear for Christmas.

The film, made with actors, aims to portray the loneliness of rough sleeping, particularly at this time of year, and that there are many reasons as to why people become homeless so the charity hopes to encourage people not to make judgements.

Fiona Hobson, of Simon on the Streets said: “We really hope our video will raise awareness of rough sleeping in West Yorkshire. While the problems rough sleepers face come to the forefront of people’s minds at Christmas, these issues are faced by those we support 365 days of the year, which is why our street-based outreach workers offer vital long-term support.”

Everyone involved in making the film gave their time and expertise for free.