ImpactHK, a local non-profit group dedicated to enabling people experiencing homelessness to develop and sustain independent lives by providing a range of holistic support services, has launched its winter campaign: No One Forgotten This Winter. The programme will run from November to 25 December this year, with a view to raise HK$1 million for outreach activities in 2023.
With HK$1 million, we can run 900 kindness walks next year, to provide food and essential items to over 500 people across 14 districts. It will also provide 1,800 hours of training for someone on our employment programme and allow us to add a case worker to provide deeper emotional and practical support for people on the streets.”
– Jeff Rotmeyer, Founder & CEO of ImpactHK
The new winter campaign asks individuals to fundraise with various activities that seek to build empathy for homelessness. These include staying awake for 24 hours or walking a mile with no shoes on. The activities are inspired by ImpactHK Founder and CEO, Jeff Rotmeyer who will camp in Lantau on 3 December. Based upon the amount raised, Jeff will sleep with no pillow, tent, or food.
Check out Jeff’s fundraising campaign here.
Jeff Rotmeyer and his “Take away camping” campaign
Why support the campaign?
In Hong Kong, one in four people live in poverty. In 2020, unemployment reached a fifteen year high and street sleeping has increased by 22% since 2019. The average waiting time for public housing is around five and half years and the average person would need to save for 18 years in order to buy a home. More than 1500 people are living on the streets every night with limited resilience to face extreme weather conditions, especially in the winter. With this winter campaign, ImpactHK hopes to help those who need it most this winter and show them that they are not forgotten.
How ImpactHK helps
On kindness walks, ImpactHK and its team of volunteers give out essential supplies to street cleaners, the underprivileged elderly, and people experiencing homelessness. ImpactHK believes that everyone has the right to a meal and basic protection. On kindness walks, the charity’s team of volunteers give out food, drinks, toiletries, clothes and masks. This is also where the nonprofit builds trust and invites users to join its holistic recovery programmes, including health, employment and shelter. This is to empower those experiencing homelessness to change their lives by improving their mental and physical health and access to community support. Through its outreach work, ImpactHK helps those experiencing homelessness to lift themselves out of poverty. In parallel, the campaign advocates for greater societal awareness of homelessness – so that people understand the issue and have empathy towards those that experience it.
Photo: Ben Marans
Homelessness in Hong Kong
At a glance:
- In 2021, 72% of ImpactHK clients were male and 28% were female
- 51% are living with mental illness
- 48% of clients have different physical illnesses
- 31% of clients have substance use issues
During the Homelessness Census 2021, ImpactHK and other organisations serving this group, found 1,532 people experiencing homelessness in Hong Kong on one single night in July. But this number only shows part of the picture and there are more people hidden and homeless in Hong Kong. In 2022, COVID-19 and especially the fifth wave, has continued to render many people homeless – an 18% increase from the year before – and there are more women on the streets than ever before.
Every week, ImpactHK serves a light meal to around 520 people in 14 locations across Hong Kong on our Kindness Walks. Last year they served more than 59,000 bananas and 61,470 hard-boiled eggs on the streets. The importance of outreach programmes is more than just a meal, it promotes inclusion, helping to raise awareness of homelessness in Hong Kong. Last year, ImpactHK worked with 4,800 volunteers to reduce stigma and eradicate misconceptions about people experiencing homelessness. The trust and connections built helps people to get off the streets and into safe shelter.
Many people experiencing homelessness in Hong Kong are facing physical or mental health problems, making it hard to care for themselves. Many did not receive secondary or higher education or face literacy or numeracy barriers, which can make it hard to find work. Or they may lack confidence in their own skills and abilities and not recognise their own strength and resilience. Many people who become homeless had traumatic experiences during childhood or come from challenging family backgrounds. Sometimes it was neglect or abuse, other times it was an unstable environment, such as growing up in the care system. Poor mental health is extremely widespread among people who experience homelessness, and many have never had sufficient diagnoses, treatments or help. Not to mention needing support with healing from the trauma of becoming homeless. It is a complex mix of factors that forces someone to become homeless.
“We believe everyone deserves the chance to change their lives for the better. Thank you in advance to everyone that supports No One Forgotten This Winter”.
How to be involved
For direct donation to their outreach programme, you can visit their fundraising page: https://www.sparkraise.com/campaigns/view/b75758ec-4bae-4bb9-a384-36510ff450a0. If you’d like to support ImpactHK Founder and CEO Jeff’s fundraiser “Take away camping” challenge, you can visit his campaign page: https://www.sparkraise.com/campaigns/view/2a767276-b1db-4e2c-a479-e15a2b75e945.
The duration of this campaign will be from mid-November to 25 December 2022.
Alternatively, you can also create your own fundraiser!
For more information about ImpactHK, do visit their website https://impacthk.org/.