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Hoxton resident hands out food and toiletries to homeless people during the coronavirus pandemic

PUBLISHED: 12:47 01 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:06 01 July 2020

Rough sleepers line up in Trafalgar Square as volunteers distribute free toiletries. Picture: James TYE

Rough sleepers line up in Trafalgar Square as volunteers distribute free toiletries. Picture: James TYE

JAMES TYE

A Hoxton resident has been cycling across London delivering food and toiletries to rough sleepers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Claudia Stachelhaus sorts toiletry donations. Picture: Toiletries For The StreetsClaudia Stachelhaus sorts toiletry donations. Picture: Toiletries For The Streets

Before the coronavirus lockdown Claudia Stachelhaus ran supper clubs from her home but, since finding herself out of work, she decided to volunteer for the Hare Krishna food relief charity Food For All.

The charity has increased its output of meals by 150 per cent during the crisis giving out thousands of free, vegetarian meals to people in need.

Volunteers hand out free toiletries to rough sleepers. Picture: James TYEVolunteers hand out free toiletries to rough sleepers. Picture: James TYE

Claudia told the Gazette: “Food is kind of my thing, so I wanted to go and see where I could help.”

READ MORE: Hackney Gazette’s Hidden Homeless Campaign

Claudia set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to raise money to buy toiletries but is also accepting donations from the local community. Picture: Toiletries for the StreetsClaudia set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to raise money to buy toiletries but is also accepting donations from the local community. Picture: Toiletries for the Streets

Whilst out doing her volunteering work the German-born Hackney resident noticed a lack of toilet facilities available in areas where people were rough sleeping.

“For rough sleepers it’s even worse because there’s no showers. Apparently, in the whole of central London there was one place people could shower and book an appointment.

Volunteers hand out toiletries, water and food and people in need during the Covid-19 crisis. Picture: Toiletries for the StreetsVolunteers hand out toiletries, water and food and people in need during the Covid-19 crisis. Picture: Toiletries for the Streets

“So I thought: ‘This is ridiculous!’”

Claudia started collecting toiletries with the help of her local Mutual Aid group and set up a crowdfunder to buy toiletries for rough sleepers.

Toiletry products being given away include hand sanitiser, tooth brushes and paste, wet wipes, shampoo and conditioner and deodorants. Picture: Toiletries for the StreetsToiletry products being given away include hand sanitiser, tooth brushes and paste, wet wipes, shampoo and conditioner and deodorants. Picture: Toiletries for the Streets

READ MORE: One in 36 people in Hackney homeless – seventh highest figure in country

She and other volunteers now spend their time travelling across London offering food and toiletries to homeless people around the city.

Hoxton resident Claudia Stachelhaus has spent her lockdown organising toiletry drop-offs for rough sleepers around Central and East London. Picture: Toiletries for the StreetsHoxton resident Claudia Stachelhaus has spent her lockdown organising toiletry drop-offs for rough sleepers around Central and East London. Picture: Toiletries for the Streets

“Many people say they need toiletries and are really happy to receive them. Some of them just take it but quite often you hear them say: ‘This is what I need and this is so nice’,” Claudia said.

She says many charities offer food to homeless people but toiletries are less of a priority.

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READ MORE: Donate unused toiletries at Hackney’s first Beauty Bank

Claudia has met many ex-prisoners now living on the streets and many people made homeless recently due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She worries what will happen to the thousands of rough sleepers provided accommodation by the government in hotels and hostels when the hospitality industry reopens on July 4.

READ MORE: Hackney Council places more than 50 homeless people in hotels during coronavirus lockdown

Claudia moved to England from Germany about 15 years ago and thinks, over the years, there has been a marked increase in the number of homeless people on London’s streets.

In 2019, 280,000 people in England were homeless with thousands more at risk, according to Homeless charity Shelter. The figures show an increase of 23,000 since 2016 meaning one in every 200 people were without a home.

She said: “I’ve been going around London to places like Old street and Trafalgar square. Trafalgar Square is one of the richest places on earth and on a Friday night you have a queue of about a hundred people who want toiletries and food – it’s not right!”

READ MORE: Homeless man dies after spending months living in Stoke Newington bus stop

In May, The government announced £6 million of emergency funding to provide relief for frontline homelessness charitable organisations who are directly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and in March UK hotels became homeless shelters under the government’s coronavirus strategy to reduce transmission of the virus.

Claudia plans to continue with the Toiletries For The Streets project as she believes initiatives like hers will be needed long after the crisis is over.

To donate to Claudia’s GoFundMe click here

Follow her instagram @toiletriesforthestreets for more information or click here.

The Beauty Banks initiative donating toiletries to people in need in Hackney is also collecting donations at another location since its drop-off point at The Castle Cinema closed.

Toiletries can now be dropped off at 2 Steven’s Avenue, E9 6RX Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm. For more information call Eve Riley on 07983 404 626 or email everiley@outlook.com

READ MORE: Donate unused toiletries at Hackney’s first Beauty Bank


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