Siobhan Benita is calling on the current Mayor to invite Londoners to hand in their unused or unwanted Oyster cards so the small amounts of cash on them can be donated to homeless charities and give a multi-million-pound fundraising boost to help rough sleepers this Christmas. Sign the petition.
According to the latest estimates, TfL is sitting on over £400 million in dormant Oyster card accounts. If these were handed in by the public as part of the #OystersForChristmas campaign, TfL could access the balance on the cards and send the money directly to homeless charities.
Siobhan's call for an #OystersForChristmas campaign comes as she joined hundreds of fellow Londoners for Centrepoint's Sleep Out. The event, which took place at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford on Tuesday night, helped to raise awareness and money for the homeless charity and Benita unveiled her policies for ending the capital's rough sleeping crisis.
Siobhan has written to London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Mike Brown, the Commissioner of TfL, urging them to adopt the #OysterForChristmas' campaign in the weeks running up to festive period. Sign the petition in support here.
Siobhan Benita said:
"Our #OystersForChristmas campaign can raise millions of pounds for homeless charities this Christmas by unlocking the cash on unused Oyster cards. I'm calling on the current Mayor to help us release that money. If Sadiq Khan is serious about helping the thousands of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in London this Christmas, he could act now and do something which would have a real impact on vulnerable people's lives over the festive period and beyond. As we enter the harshest weeks of winter, we're sure the ever-generous public will want to do their bit to raise what is potentially millions of pounds to help homeless people this Christmas.
Siobhan also outlined her policies to bring an end to rough sleeping in the capital while on the Centrepoint Sleep Out:
"Spending just one night sleeping out, and in far more comfortable conditions than rough sleepers endure every night across London, I got a small glimpse of how soul-destroying it must be. I can't praise enough the incredible work of Centrepoint and other charities who provide vital support to keep homeless people off the freezing streets and offer them more long-term help. But we need to tackle this crisis at its roots, before people reach the streets.
"It's shocking that the number of rough sleepers in London has surged to a record high, with around 22 new people now sleeping on the streets for the first time each day. It's shameful that London accounts for over a quarter of the total number of people sleeping rough in England. After nearly a full term as Mayor, Sadiq Khan's rough sleeping strategy has clearly failed and we need to know why.
"Fresh action and strong leadership are urgently required. I was astonished to discover that there is currently no senior figure or team at City Hall solely dedicated to tackling rough sleeping. As Mayor, I would establish a new unit under senior leadership, with the single objective of addressing homelessness and eradicating rough sleeping.
"The root causes of homelessness are complex and include family breakdown, mental health and addiction issues as well as welfare cuts. So the new unit would work closely with councils and front line service providers to make it much easier for people to get the support they need. We need to show compassion for everyone who finds themselves on the streets and we also need to deliver the care and support that will make a sustainable difference."