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KCLSU & Societies

KCLSU 2023 Awards Nominees: Meet KCL On The Streets

KCL On the Streets donation collection
Image courtesy of KCLOTS

Editor-in-Chief Fintan Hogan profiles the student society KCL on the Streets after their nomination in the 2023 KCLSU Awards.

While student life is usually associated with partying and studying, one group of students at King’s College London (KCL) are determined to make a difference. KCL on the Streets (KCLOTS) are a ‘homelessness action society’ who aim to provide outreach and support for the homeless community in London. Formally the Hot Chocolate Society, the last few years have seen a dramatic increase in the presence, membership and profile of the group. This has culminated in a nomination for ‘Most Improved Society’ at the 2023 KCLSU Awards.

KCLOTS Events Officer Carrie is delighted that their nomination will raise the profile of the society. “We’re very happy for the opportunity to raise more awareness about our society. Often people don’t know we even exist, or they feel too intimidated to get involved, but everyone is welcome in KCLOTS and we’re proud to get our name out there.”

For the past few years, KCLOTS have held weekly outreach sessions with members of the local homeless community. This includes walking groups in and around the Strand area who talk to local people and find out their concerns, needs and interests. Not only do they provide much-needed goods for those in need, but a key part of their work is to combat alienation. KCLOTS President Tiphaine is keen to break down the stereotypes of homeless people among the student community: “No, the homeless aren’t all ‘violent, drug-addled or lazy’, as I’ve heard. They are people in real need, desperate, and abandoned in a vicious circle fuelled by the government’s inaction. They are normal people with passions, hobbies and ambitions.”

Through their outreach, KCLOTS groups socialise with members of the homeless community in order to alleviate the devastating isolation felt by many. According to their society profile, “One of the things the homeless suffer the most from is loneliness: when constantly ignored in the street, they are robbed of their human dignity. This is one of the issues we can address as students, and you can be part of it!”  

KCLOTS have always held fundraising events, collecting financial and material donations to assist with their projects such as winter clothes, Christmas present and local charity contributions. In 2022/23, donations have gone to young homeless charity CentrePoint, Christmas present organisation the Santa Project and woman’s support charity the Marylebone Project. Community interaction has always been at the heart of what KCLOTS do. Carrie is a huge advocate for this kind of assistance: “Homeless people and those living on the streets are ignored and treated cruelly every day, and our goal at KCL On The Streets is always to treat them with the kindness and respect that they deserve. Whether through our weekly outreach sessions or our participation in events such as Community Support Day, there is nothing more rewarding than showing up in person for those on the streets.”

Over the last academic year, the group has rebranded, reorganised and refocused its mission and techniques. Their events now include not only fundraising and outreach but conferences, meetings, collections and regular social occasions. In March they collected 45 bags of food and other essential products, in collaboration with UCL Student Action Against Homelessness (UCLSAAH), for a Camden foodbank. They also held a period poverty relief pub quiz, where the ‘buy in’ was a small donation and a pack of menstrual products. 2023 also saw the first post-Covid sleepout for the society, raising almost £500. There were also an increased number of educational events held by the group, inviting local leaders into KCL to spread awareness about homelessness. This included a First Aid educational session with KCL St John’s Ambulance and a LGBTQ+ awareness talk.

President Tiphaine said that “I think the society has had a huge boost, widening its scope of action to have a greater impact. We went beyond the ‘human interaction’ aspect of the society, which is to approach people on the street and give them the attention they are lacking. We wanted to help them more concretely.” Angela, who will be President of KCLOTS in 2023/24, is particularly proud of managing to organise outreach sessions on every day of the week.

KCLOTS are always recruiting new members, something which Tiphaine hopes that the KCLSU Awards will help to do by promoting the volunteering work of King’s students alongside their academic and sporting successes. They hope to attract students who want to help alleviate the issue of homelessness, positively impact their local community, are happy to push outside of their comfort zone and want to make the world a better place.

Vice-president Peter is keen to point out that students have a lot to learn, not just a lot to give. “Most importantly, you also gain the necessary social skills so as to be able to talk to someone vulnerable and make them feel better; an important skill to have, even when not running a homeless outreach. Helping the homeless community is consequently an incredibly rewarding experience, and everyone should therefore give it a go!” Society registration is open all year round and you can find more information on their social media pages. See more from KCLOTS during Roar’s upcoming coverage of the KCLSU Awards.

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