“StreetSmart’s ambitions are to connect the lucky citizen who can dine out with the unlucky ones for whom dining out means queuing up in front of food banks.” – Stephen Fry
First established in 1998, this year marks the twentieth anniversary of StreetSmart, a charity fundraising for homeless and vulnerable people through the support of top restaurants across the UK every November and December. The charity has raised over £8.2 million across two decades, through the simple idea of adding a voluntary £1 to diners’ bills throughout the festive months.
StreetSmart raised a staggering £587,000 in 2016 and in this anniversary year, will be building on this success with both long-standing supporters, as well as newcomers to the scheme. Restaurants such as The River Café, Ottolenghi, MEATliquor and Barrafina continue to pledge their support to the cause. Ruth Rogers, co-founder of The River Café, states “Homelessness is one of the big issues of our time. We’ve been doing StreetSmart since the beginning. It’s just kept growing and become a bit of a family tree amongst restaurateurs in London.”
Over 500 restaurants across the UK are currently lined up to participate in this year’s campaign with more yet to be announced ahead of launching on 1st November, including exciting newcomers like Anzu, Ikoyi and Luca in London, El gato negro in Manchester and Issho in Leeds.
2017 couldn’t be a more crucial time to support the campaign: homelessness figures have continued to climb and the estimated number of rough sleepers on a single night in England is 4,134, marking an increase of 134% since 2010. During the same period, the number of families declaring themselves homeless increased by 48% to 59,090.
The StreetSmart campaign takes place at participating establishments, with a table card or other invitation to add £1 to the diners’ final bill. Every penny of every £1 raised in each restaurant is distributed by StreetSmart to local charities in cities across the UK. This means that if customers spend local, the money and subsequent support stays local, too.
StreetSmart is a simple scheme that runs for two months. The campaign doesn’t dip into any of the funds raised because it has a partner, Deutsche Bank, who fund the administration element. This ensures that every pound given by diners remains whole and goes directly to help the homeless and vulnerable.
StreetSmart was set up in 1998 by two ethically-minded London business people, William Sieghart, Chairman of StreetSmart, founder of Forward Publishing and Mary-Lou Sturridge, Former Director of The Groucho Club, and Hotelier.