LONDON Mayor Boris Johnson and newspaper owner Evgeny Lebedev spent a night rough-sleeping on a London street to support of a campaign to raise awareness of the plight of homeless veterans.

Armed with just a sleeping bag and sheet of cardboard each and away from the glare of the media, Mr Johnson and Mr Lebedev visited some of the outreach programmes run by London charity St Mungo’s Broadway, before bedding down for the night on a pavement on Gresham Street, five minutes-walk from St Paul’s Cathedral.

In an attempt to experience as closely as possible the reality faced by many of today’s veterans, the pair slept on the streets to raise awareness of how to help those genuinely forced into rough-sleeping, as part of a pledge from the Evening Standard, Independent, i and London Live to back ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and Veterans Aid for this year’s Christmas appeal.

Both charities support veterans who are struggling and at risk of falling into homelessness as well as reaching out to those who were homeless but are now re-building their lives.

Supporting those in need

Mr Johnson said: “People who have served our country in the most difficult and unimaginable situations deserve all the help we can give them.

“It’s wonderful to see the work being done by institutions helping those out in the cold, and we can’t give them our thanks enough.”

Compassionate London

Mr Lebedev, owner of the Independent titles and London Evening Standard, said: “We’ve seen compassionate London at its best tonight: brave care-workers who care about people no-one else does, and show genuine courage on a daily basis.

“It’s humbling to see the work done by all of these outreach services.

“That goes for government programmes like No Second Night Out who provide a rapid response to new rough sleepers, to more targeted charity groups like Veterans Aid [the Homeless Veterans campaign’s charity partner], who help those that have served their country, yet afterwards find themselves destitute.”

To find out more about the work of in support of veterans, visit Veterans Aid at www.veterans-aid.net or ABF The Soldiers’ Charity at www.soldierscharity.org

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