‘Soup runs are unnecessary' claim divides homelessness groups
Homelessness groups were divided this week after the head of one of the largest charities of its kind said soup runs were ‘not a service required in the 21st century'.
Thames Reach Bondway chief executive Jeremy Swain said such runs were ‘bringing vulnerable people unnecessarily onto the street and encouraging them to sustain their street lifestyle'.
It followed Westminster Council's launch of a policy of ‘tough love' to drive down the number of rough sleepers.
Thames Reach Bondway stopped its own soup run in London, which operated for more than 20 years, in 2000 and replaced it with a street rescue service.
Mr Swain told Inside Housing: ‘It became clear to us that the soup run was keeping people on the street rather than helping people get off the street. The message would be the same in any major city.'
The proliferation of soup runs in London meant groups were ‘battling for space' and at one point last year there were eight soup runs serving eight rough sleepers in Waterloo. While praising individuals' commitment, he said their efforts would be better employed in other ways.
Westminster Council leader Simon Milton said: ‘We need to make street life as uncomfortable
as we can to persuade the most entrenched rough sleepers to accept the help we offer them every day.'
But Simon Community director Mike Tristram said: ‘That statement betrays a total lack of understanding about what soup and tea runs are about.'
It was also an important means of making contact with people living on the streets, he said.