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#WorldHomelessDay 2021 speech by CEO - full text

Watch the video of this speech here.

Today marks the 11th World Homeless Day. Whilst we are still in the grips of a pandemic, people in the UK and around the world are suffering. Millions across the globe are homeless, and today is the day where we come together as a local, national and international community to raise awareness and promote the best ways to help.

I am Hugo Sugg, the Chief Executive of the Cardon Banfield Foundation - an organisation in the UK which is responding to homelessness. We are one of hundreds of organisations in the country which are there to tackle homelessness, but we have a different way of doing it.

Our primary mission is to prevent unnecessary deaths of people who are homeless..

Hundreds of rough sleepers and people who are in temporary accommodation are found deceased every year, with the majority of them not being investigated.

74 year old Cardon Banfield’s death in 2016 was the exception and not the rule - with 3 and a half years of pressure on authorities in Worcestershire, a Safeguarding Adults Review was finally conducted and the conclusion was exactly how we expected: More could have been done by agencies to help Cardon and the other 5 people who died between 2016 and 2020.

Although carrying out an investigation into a death of a person who is homeless is uncommon, what is not uncommon is the result. Time and time again it is found that services in the individual’s local area have not worked in the best way and this meant the person slipped through the net with often tragic and fatal consequences.

It has always been the case that myself and the volunteers of the Cardon Banfield Foundation find this unacceptable. Millions of pounds every year is spent on the issue of homelessness up and down the UK, yet every week we see reports that someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, or best friend’s body has been found before their time was up.

Today, on World Homeless Day, we should all pay tribute to each one of these people and send our condolences to their friends, family and the community who mourn them every day.

Because homelessness can happen as a result of many factors in someone’s life, it is not always preventable which means it is impossible to ‘end homelessness’ everywhere completely. Recognising this, however, should not stop us doing the best we can to soften the impact.

The significance of World Homeless Day is that homelessness becomes the focus of everyone, regardless of their job or location.

We all have a responsibility to help our neighbour.

Firstly, language is so important. You will notice that in this speech, I have not said ‘homeless person’ because to say that is to remove someone’s humanity. Saying ‘death of a person who is homeless’ puts the person before any number of the issues they face. If you know that individual, then you should use their name.

Changing our language helps vulnerable people feel recognised and validated.

Secondly it’s recognising that homelessness comes in many forms and people on the street - often called rough sleepers - are the most visible form of homelessness yet the least common.

The majority of people who are homeless are behind closed doors. Now, I’m sure you’re wondering “how are they homeless?”, however it’s important to realise that homelessness is an umbrella term for anyone who does not have their own safe, secure accommodation.

This means people who are staying on their friend’s sofa, in hospital, in prison, in a homeless shelter or at risk of eviction are technically homeless. Each one of these people are vulnerable in their own way.

With this in mind, you are likely to know