Homeless charity Streetsmart launches 2017 campaign with star-studded bash at Groucho Club

StreetSmart launched its 2017 appeal today, after celebrating two decades of helping the homeless with a culinary-star-studded event at the Groucho Club.

Twenty years after the Christmas restaurant charity drive was founded at the same Soho venue by William Sieghart and Mary-Lou Sturridge, top chefs including Skye Gyngell of Spring at Somerset House and Jeremy Lee of Quo Vadis gathered to mark the occasion - writes standard.co.uk.

By adding an optional pound onto bills at participating restaurants during November and December, StreetSmart has raised £8.2 million for homeless charities since it began.

Mr Sieghart told how in 1997 “I noticed a man who was sleeping outside the door of the club and I decided we needed to do something about it. It has been an effective, wondrous way of giving, and this year we should raise our ninth or 10th million.

“We’ve been here for 20 years and I hope we’ll still be here in 20 years.” Gyngell and Lee’s restaurants have participated in the initiative since the start.

Hundreds more restaurants are taking part including Barrafina, Ottolenghi, MEATLiquor, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Joe Allen and Moro.

“It’s something I delight in,” said Lee. “I think its secret is that it’s dead simple. Today all of us often feel far too busy and serious to do anything, but with this tiny effort you can end up with a large lump sum after Christmas.

“It’s a small gesture for a big problem. Hopefully one day it won’t be necessary.”

In December Gyngell will host a Christmas dinner for the homeless at Somerset House, using ingredients donated by suppliers and with help from local volunteers.

“We’ve been involved for about 10 years, and for me Streetsmart really marks Christmas,” she said. “It’s a painless way of taking money, just after you’ve had a nice meal when you’re feeling loving and giving.” This year, more than 500 restaurants are participating in Streetsmart across 22 cities including Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.

The running costs are paid for by Deutsche Bank, which means all the money raised goes directly to local charities.

Read also more other London news on our site.

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