StreetSmart raises record-breaking sum for the homeless, with more than £1million donated by diners

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

Last year, diners up and down the country raised more than £1million for the homeless, the charity StreetSmart announced on Monday evening.

The sum marks the first time the charity, which turned 25 last year, has raised more than a million, and it bests last year’s considerable effort — a record in itself — by some £250,000. In total, StreetSmart has now raised more than £13 million since its inception in 1998.

The group’s simple premise levies an optional £1 on a table’s bill during November and December, and costs restaurants nothing to implement. Every penny raised goes towards tackling homelessness, helping rough sleepers find food, shelter and support, because the operation’s costs are met by longstanding partner LandAid, a property industry charity dedicated to ending youth homelessness in the UK.

The exact total raised over the 2023 campaign was £1,059,000, from 606 restaurants. As with last year, the biggest donation came from the Selfridge’s group, which raised £98,000 across its department stores, topping last year’s efforts by £1,000. Other big contributors were Harvey Nichols (£46,163); D&D London (£41,177), who run the likes of Angler and Bluebird; the Lina Stores group with £30,000; and Scott Collins’s MeatLiquor (£28,940).

The biggest contribution from a single restaurant was £29,074, raised by St James’s restaurant Fallow. The Standard has long had an association with StreetSmart, having been involved from its first year. Jimi Famurewa, the paper’s chief restaurant critic, said of this year’s efforts: “StreetSmart is an integral, treasured component of the London dining scene. Each year, the capital’s best restaurants take part to help those caught up in the misery of homelessness and it remains a vital, simple way to pay the spirit and generosity of a great meal forward. The altruism of restaurateurs and their diners has achieved a truly great result that will help make a lasting difference to so many lives.”

The Standard’s Jimi Famurewa, second from right, next to the Dorchester’s Tom Booton (Press handout)
The Standard’s Jimi Famurewa, second from right, next to the Dorchester’s Tom Booton (Press handout)

Alice Lamb, LandAid’s deputy chief executive, added: “I am beyond delighted at the total raised... and it has been amazing to see continual rising enthusiasm from across the hospitality and property industries in supporting the campaign. Sadly, we know that this support needed now more than ever with 135,800 young people facing homelessness last year alone.

“The funds raised will enable projects that bring both relief and security to 16-25 year olds across the UK. This means they can focus their energy on essential skills to build a brighter future, finding sustainable employment and education opportunities, as opposed to worrying where they are going to safely sleep each night.”

The charity is supported by a number of high-profile ambassadors in the hospitality sector, including chefs Clare Smyth, Jackson Boxer and Tom Booton. Booton, who recently visited Clapham’s Ace of Clubs day centre, which feeds up to 200-a-day thanks to StreetSmart’s support, said: “It was amazing to see first hand where some of the money raised goes towards and reinforced why we continue working with StreetSmart every year at all our restaurants at the Dorchester. When so many restaurants take part and customers commit to a small donation it clearly makes a huge difference.”

The premise for StreetSmart came to co-founder William Sieghart 1998 while he was in the bath. “There used to be this guy, a homeless guy, who plonked himself in the Groucho’s entrance. I stepped out over him after [a] meeting and later, as I was sat in the bath — where all the best ideas come — I thought, what if we stuck the pound on the bill, for the homeless?” he told the Standard last year.

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