UK Restaurant Diners Are Helping Homeless People During The Holidays, 1 Meal At A Time

“It’s such an easy process adding a pound to the end of every bill, it seems like a no-brainer."

A small addition to restaurant diners’ checks is making a big difference to the United Kingdom’s homeless population this holiday season.

More than 500 restaurants around the U.K. are offering customers the chance to add an extra British pound (around $1.33) to their bill throughout November and December.

The StreetSmart charity then collects and redistributes the funds to organizations that help the homeless in the area where it was donated. Now in its 20th year, the initiative has raised a total of 8.2 million British pounds (around $10.8 million) for good causes.

Deutsche Bank sponsors the project and pays for its operational costs, meaning that 100 percent of the money that is donated reaches its intended recipients.

Launched in London by William Sieghart and Mary-lou Sturridge in 1998, StreetSmart has since spread to dozens of cities across the U.K., aiming to help the country’s estimated 254,514 people without homes.

Celebrities, such as actor Stephen Fry, chef Gordon Ramsay and “Trainspotting” author Irvine Welsh, have endorsed the charity in recent years.

In the southwest city of Bristol, where homelessness rates are around twice the national average, 25 eateries are participating in this year’s initiative. 

Local diners’ donations will help fund projects run by charities such as Emmaus Bristol, which provides accommodation and community-based work for the homeless; One 25, which works to find homes for street sex workers; and St Mungo’s, which provides educational courses for those who have experienced homelessness.

“We rely on donations from organizations such as StreetSmart to run this vital emergency service,” said St. Mungo’s regional fundraising manager, Kathryn Lacy. It provides “the first step on the road to recovery,” she added.

Richard Boon, who owns Bristol burger restaurant Hubbox, said a big draw to involving his eatery in the project was that “every single penny raised goes directly to those who need it the most.”

“I grew up in Bristol, and know there is a big problem with homelessness, so we want to support where we can,” said Boon.

John Watson, head chef and owner of No Man’s Grace, echoed the sentiment. “It’s such an easy process adding a pound to the end of every bill, it seems like a no-brainer.”