A group of Jewish friends helping rough-sleepers in London had some good news this week, when an undercover journalist filming them turned out to be a millionaire who then donated a van and £15,000.
The team behind the Linkey Initiative, set up late last year, had the surprise after being filmed for Channel 5 show ‘Do The Right Thing’ with Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford, which aired on Thursday night.
“As part of the show we had a ‘reporter’ come to the house about a week ago to film us packing items for rough sleepers,” said Linkey co-founder Natasha Langleben.
The fake reporter, called Joe, went with the team out on to the streets to follow them doing drop-offs, before it was revealed by Langsford that Joe wasn’t actually a reporter but an undercover multi-millionaire.
Joe later presented them with a van to use for a year with the Linkey Initiative logo on it, plus essential items worth £15,000 for the homeless drop-offs.
When you discover that Joe Fournier isn’t a reporter but a multimillionaire entrepreneur…
He’s so impressed with @Linkey_UK, he’s donating a van, time and loads of items! ???? #DoTheRightThing pic.twitter.com/suLL0GYoeY
— Channel 5 (@channel5_tv) March 8, 2018
“We were completely shocked,” said Langleben. “It was all a complete surprise. One of the main items we needed to help us grow was a van to help with big drop offs. It will enable us to fulfil lots of opportunities including a recent large donation from a hotel which we can now collect and distribute among homeless shelters.”
Over the past week the Linkey team has sent essential items to 18 homeless shelters across the country, following a flurry of donations, perhaps prompted by this month’s severe weather.
“The shelters need these supplies year-round, as do rough sleepers who remain cold, wet and lonely even when it’s not snowing,” she said. “So we’re hoping for many more donations after the show!”
The social enterprise was started by a pair of Jewish siblings from Barnet after a chance encounter between Josh Adley from Finchley and an elderly homeless man outside Barnet Everyman just before Christmas.
The man had asked Josh whether he knew of any hostels or shelters nearby. Together with his sister, Natasha, the pair searched local shelters, but found most needed referrals. They later went to find the homeless man to no avail, before deciding to act by involving friends.
In February, they raised money for an £8 Valentine’s Day ‘homeless pack’ providing essential items for rough sleepers, including thermal gloves, a toothbrush, toothpaste, shower gel and deodorant.
The number of people sleeping on the streets of England is now more than 4,700, the highest number since records began. The situation is exacerbated by councils fitting anti-homeless fixtures in public areas, such as metal bars across benches.