The Impact Free Public Showers Could Have On The Lives Of Rough Sleepers

Last year, at the winter shelter where I volunteer, a guest said to me that London should have free public showers. Once spoken, it was overwhelmingly obvious, too simple with too far-reaching an impact for London not to have them already.

But then Network Rail have only just made some of their station toilets at Charing Cross, Victoria, London Bridge and Cannon Street stations free, taking one block off the toppling tower of daily challenge of living on the streets.

Another step is the plan to install water fountains. We’re moving in the right direction then, albeit slowly. Network Rail made over £20m from toilets in the years between 2013/14 and 2016/17 – our human needs make for big business. A five-year funding settlement means that its chief executive, Mark Carne is able to stop all toilet charges from next year, in nationwide relief. He reasoned that he wanted to treat passengers with “dignity and respect”. It’s a long time coming, but perhaps the public’s wellbeing is being put above profit. Showers must surely follow.

If toilets…

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