Our Ex-Home Secretary, Suella Braverman MP recently described rough sleeping as a “lifestyle choice” when she defended her decision to restrict the use of tents by people sleeping rough. 

You might be wondering if people do indeed ‘choose a life on the streets. 

We’ll be clear with you. Being homeless is not a lifestyle choice. It’s dangerous and traumatic. Especially during winter. 

When someone has no option but to sleep rough in one of the wealthiest cities in the world, its because the policies and support systems that should have protected them have totally failed. 

The act of living in a tent on the streets is someone’s desperate attempt to stay alive and protect themselves against the elements and daily threats to their lives. Its survival, not lifestyle. 

Criminalising someone for using their survival instinct and trying to protect themselves isn’t right and doesn’t make sense. We need the Government to give people a fair chance and tackle the housing crisis.  

How many people are homeless in London?

  • Rough sleeping is soaring in London, with over 1,700 more people on the streets than last year – a 21% rise 

  • One Londoner is forced into homelessness every 8.5 minutes. 

Why is homelessness in London so bad?

In London, this is largely driven by a toxic mix of: 

  • Housing benefit (Local Housing Allowance) being frozen since 2019 

  • Soaring rental rates 

  • A political choice to keep ‘no fault evictions 

  • Not enough affordable housing 

Read more about homelessness in London 

But Suella Braverman says there are options for people who don’t want to sleep rough. Is it true? 

If there were truly enough viable options, we wouldn’t see these rising levels of homelessness. Anyone faced with the threat of homelessness would jump at the chance of help. 

How we helped John leave homelessness behind

John spent 15 years on London’s streets, continuously failed by the support systems that should have been there to help. He will never truly forget how traumatising the streets were. 

 It was a living nightmare. The winter was the worst. The weather was cruel. I never used alcohol much or drugs at all, so I felt every moment of it. My last winter was the worst ever. I would have three or four jackets on, but the aches and pains from the cold were unbearable. I don’t know how I got through it. 

John tried repeatedly to seek help whilst rough sleeping, but he was faced with false promises on multiple occasions. His illiteracy proved to be an additional barrier to support. 

"After years of trying, I just gave up. There was nothing I could do. Trying to get support just stressed me out so much that I would forget about eating. 

“I would be given a bunch of papers and told to fill them out, come back, and then promised I would be referred to someone else. But I can’t read or write, and I struggle to use a computer or phone, so I found it impossible." 

It’s been a miracle coming to Single Homeless Project. Changes have happened that I never thought would happen, and they are all good things. I’m ready to move on and rebuild.” 

Read John’s story 

How can you help? 

Single Homeless Project is open 24/7, providing warm, safe spaces for Londoners in crisis and support from our expert teams. 

You can help end homelessness for 2,240 people by Christmas Day. Donate today