London is truly a city of two halves. Behind the theatres and opera houses, Michelin-starred restaurants and glamorous shops, there is desperate social need. Nearly four in ten children in London are growing up in poverty. 421,426 Londoners received emergency food parcels in 2020/21 – more than twice as many as the year before. And London consistently tops the charts as the loneliest city to live in the world.
Right here in the heart of Westminster, where All Souls Serve the City is based, we have the largest homeless population in London. In fact, a quarter of all rough sleepers in England are here in Westminster. Westminster is also home to more sex workers and trafficked women than anywhere else in the country. Around half of all of women involved in this industry in the UK are based here in Westminster.
Despite the hustle and bustle of city life, loneliness and isolation are real enemies to many adults and children at home here in Westminster. Many of our elderly neighbours live alone; either with no family nearby, or no family at all. In our local primary school, a third of the children are eligible for Pupil Premium, meaning that they are vulnerable to possible underachievement. Isolation affects old and young alike; entire family units as well as individuals.
Recognising and responding to the needs on our doorsteps, our current projects are seeking to address the needs of the homeless and vulnerably housed, women caught in the sex industry, the isolated elderly, and the children in our local primary school catchment area.