Housing

Late Big Issue vendor’s sister continues his legacy with homeless rooms

Former Bournemouth seller Darren James Ledger died in December 2017. His sister Jen Roberts was inspired to house homeless people in renovated luxury accommodation in his memory

Homeless Worldwide plaque

The sister of a late Big Issue vendor is keeping his memory alive by housing 14 homeless people in renovated accommodation.

Jen Roberts set up charity Homeless Worldwide eight months ago following ex-Bournemouth seller Darren James Ledger’s death in Christmas 2017.

Last year, she posthumously achieved one of Darren’s life goals when she recorded a charity version of The Hollies’ ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ featuring Peter Andre, M People’s Heather Small, Atomic Kitten’s Natasha Hamilton and more.

Darren James Ledger
late vendor Darren James Ledger
Darren James Ledger died in December 2017 after previously selling The Big Issue magazine in Bournemouth

Now, Jen is launching the next stage of Darren’s legacy by launching 14-room accommodation in South Shields to help offer 14 people a path off of the street.

The work has been carried out by the charity along with Supporting Lives and the Borough of South Shields and will open its doors today with further accommodation to open later this year with room for another 50 people.

The accommodation will offer access to support for residents and will enforce a no-drugs policy.

Jenny Roberts said: “The accommodation we have were originally crack dens and the council were going to board them up. They were completely uninhabitable, full of faeces, needles and so on. The charity we work with, Supporting Lives, basically their builders have come in and renovated everything to a very high standard. Anybody could live there – I do feel that some homeless people feel that hostels cannot be habitable.

“We’ve got another couple of properties being refurbished at the moment and we’re just waiting for them to be finished, hopefully by November, so we can help 50 more people off the streets. Our plan is to take this all over the country, particularly in cities.”

Homeless Worldwide kitchen
Homeless Worldwide kitchen
All residents will have access to the communal kitchen as well as their own independent room

And to Jen the project is lasting tribute to her brother Darren, with a plaque in dedication to him set to be unveiled at the site’s grand opening.

“I’ve always been an advocate for homeless people, even before my brother became homeless himself,” she said. “I was so traumatised when I learned about my brother’s death. I still am, and the only way I could deal with my grief was to do something positive like this.”

M People singer and ambassador/director of Homeless Worldwide Small said: “We hope to see self-respect and pride restored, for those who need and deserve a chance to re-engage with society.”

Images: Homeless Worldwide

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Beat the Streets music festival funds new homes for rough sleepers: 'If we could do more, we would'
Homelessness

Beat the Streets music festival funds new homes for rough sleepers: 'If we could do more, we would'

Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?
rents uk
Renting

Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?

Scotland needs real-time rough sleeping count to save lives
rough sleeping and temporary accommodation in Scotland is under the spotlight on Buchanan Street in Glasgow
homelessness

Scotland needs real-time rough sleeping count to save lives

'More bad news for renters': Rental crisis continues with steep rent rises despite inflation falling
inflation is falling but rents are still rising at a faster rate than wages
RENTING

'More bad news for renters': Rental crisis continues with steep rent rises despite inflation falling

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know