A Waterloo church is calling on locals to help buy Oyster cards for rough sleepers who cannot access shelter so that they can keep warm on public transport overnight as the winter weather worsens.
Rev Steve Chalke – leader of Oasis Church Waterloo and founder of the Oasis charity – asked his congregation last Sunday to donate the price of the coffees they would otherwise treat themselves to this week to buy Oyster cards for street sleepers.
The idea is to help people get off the streets, out of the cold and onto a bus or a tube train in the warm.
More than £2,000 was raised in a few minutes at the church and a host of volunteers pledged their time to give out the cards through this week.
However, with worsening weather warnings for the days ahead, it is feared that even this generosity will not be sufficient. Over the next few days snow, sleet and rain could all hit and the remainder of the winter is expected to be long and cold.
Now Oasis has issued a wider public call for people to donate £20 to the emergency 'Warm up' appeal at www.oasisuk.org/warmupappeal
The first £10 will go directly toward purchasing an Oyster card with adequate credit and the second, to help sustain the wider and longer-term response to homelessness and to support vulnerable people, in communities.
"We are not pretending that this is a solution to homelessness," said Revd Steve Chalke.
But, this is an emergency. We have to do something to get people off the streets and out of the cold. It is impossible to walk through central London without seeing endless people begging, sleeping under cardboard and trying to shelter from the biting cold wind and freezing rain as best they can. We all pass them.
"And, if you are anything like me, often with no cash in your pockets, you just don't know what to do.
"Whatever the rhetoric, in truth there are just not enough accessible beds for everyone who is out there in the cold. And, even if there were, some people have been so abandoned that they just can't fit into institutional life.
"So, I am calling on all those of us who are fortunate enough to enjoy a warm home, good food and dry clothes, to give just £20 – the cost of a few coffees – to make what is potential a life-saving difference for someone else."
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