The Crystal Palace Football Club, located in Croydon, in south London, said it will turn a room inside its Selhurst Park stadium to an emergency shelter for at least 10 people as temperatures drop to below zero in the area, the Guardian newspaper said in a report.
The soccer club said the rooms will accommodate the rough-sleepers at nights and club staff will return the space to normal use in the mornings. It said the rough-sleepers will be referred to other emergency shelters in the area or other districts of London during the team’s home games.
“The club wants to be a force for good in the community and we are happy to do our bit to help those most in need,” said the club chief executive, Phil Alexander.
The decision comes as homelessness has hit record highs in large British cities like London. A research by Crisis, a British charity for homeless people, published in December, said the number of rough-sleepers in Britain increased by nearly 100 percent last year compared to 2012 to reach a whopping figure of 12,300 cases. Another 12,000 people stayed in vehicles or tents in 2017. Estimates show homelessness rose by 50 percent in Croydon last year, Presstv reported.
Experts link the surge in rough sleeping to a series of government austerity programs which have been in place since 2010, when the Conservative Party rose to power and decided to implement spending cuts to cope with impacts of a recession that had begun two years before.
Critics also blame government’s signature social welfare policy, known as the Universal Credit, for increase in homelessness, saying many have lost their house as a result of cuts to their old benefits which is a mainstay of the new system.