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  • Writer's pictureTrish Beaver

It's OUR problem - don't look away

Stop - think twice - it's another day for you and me in paradise ... it's the lyrics to an old song by legendary Phil Collins but it is very relevant to the homeless epidemic that is rising.

Everyday UK Health Radio CEO Johann Ilgenfritz goes for a daily run in the early mornings he likes to clear his mind and get a dose of endorphins. This is essential to cope with a busy day ahead of meetings and work. While he enjoys the peace and solitude of these runs – he also sees another side of life in London.

The increasing number of people who are homeless makes him worry about how our city is going to cope with this rising epidemic. He has noticed a definite increase in the number of rough sleepers he sees on his morning run. Some are familiar with him and even shout out a greeting.

Below: UK Health Radio CEO - Johann Ilgenfritz

While some homeless people stay close to stations or shopping malls so they can beg for money, others are chased away by shop owners or security companies. They have no choice but to use old tents and sleep in open public areas. This month Johann is participating in the annual CEO Sleepout challenge to raise funds for the homeless. The challenge invites CEOs to sleep rough for one night in the relative safety of the Lord’s Cricket Ground.

He said: “It’s a worthy cause and every person who has the privilege of leading a business should do it. It really makes the situation real. For many of us, it is a luxury to have our own homes or even our own beds. When you realise how tough it is to survive out in the open. You start to re-assess your own life. One of the facts that really resonated with me is that 60 percent of most people in the UK are only three paychecks away from poverty. We never think it’s going to happen to us. But we might all end up on a street corner.”

The executives who volunteer to participate are asked to raise funds for the cause. They are allowed to bring a sleeping bag, cardboard, and a layer of plastic, but must forgo the luxuries of typical camping gear. Johann remembers his last experience doing the CEO Sleepout in 2018.

“It was obviously uncomfortable as you sleep on the hard concrete stands, and I think I may have had only three hours of actual sleep. Most of the time is spent adjusting your blankets and trying to find a comfortable position.

“One of the things that really amazed me is how loud it is outside – even at night. It is as if every noise is amplified. I could hear the leaves blowing and the traffic. We had a meal before we headed off to find a sleeping spot. Most of the night was uncomfortable but one of the perks is that you get to meet people who are interesting and hear from those who have been homeless.”

Johann remarks that so many people assume homeless people are dangerous or on drugs, and he says: “It is not fun living rough. You can almost understand why they would want to use alcohol or drugs to escape from this reality. But I have seen people sleeping in the park, who get up every morning, tidy up their things and get rid of their litter.”

He believes the tough economy post-COVID has contributed to the increase in people battling to pay for rent and basic expenses. “I want to raise funds to help people in this situation and help find solutions to the problem. “

He has already met his initial target of £900 and set a new target of £1500 to reach before he participates in the CEO Sleepout on 20 November 2023. You can support him and donate to his fundraising cause by clicking on the link:


  • Despite the Government’s target of ending rough sleeping by 2024 with the Ending Rough Sleeping for Good strategy, things are actually worse.

  • Since 2010 the number of people sleeping rough on a single night has increased by a horrifying 74%. The cost-of-living crisis is plunging people into deep poverty. Costs of consumer goods and services has risen by 9.6 %

  • Those trying to budget spend money on poor-quality food – leading to cumulative health issues.

  • Many people accommodated in temporary housing are forced to move around and do not feel a sense of security. This extra stress makes it difficult to find regular employment or stay in school and has a detrimental impact on their mental health.

  • As the shortage of council homes rises the cost of private rentals has rocketed.

  • In the first 3 months of 2023 80,000 households in England contacted their local council for support, as they were at risk of becoming homeless.

  • Being homeless is not just losing a roof over your head, you become isolated from society and experience extreme feelings of alienation. You lose family, friends and a way of life.

  • Read more on :

Copyright - Trish Beaver

Trish Beaver is a journalist, blogger and freelance communicator. She enjoys researching and exploring health and lifestyle topics and believes there needs to be more positive communication in the world.


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