Money raised in memory of a homeless woman from Forest Hill who died last month will be spent ‘as wisely as possible’ by a volunteer group set up to manage the funds.
Clare Phipps, who created an online fundraiser in memory of Stefania, an Italian rough sleeper who was addicted to drugs and well-known in the Forest Hill area, said she hoped any money left-over after the funeral would be donated to charities and organisations supporting homeless women in particular.
So far, nearly £8,000 has been raised towards a memorial held on Saturday, July 20 at Sydenham School, and the cost of repatriating her remains to Italy for burial, with support from Beckenham’s NS Wibberley Funeral Directors.
Ms Phipps told the News: “I am really keen to make sure the funds passed to us in her memory are spent as wisely as possible so I am getting together a planning group of local people who have experience of working with homeless people and know what services are already available locally and how we can support them.
“I personally would love us to focus on helping homeless women as they face many additional problems, but we will see what is appropriate and needed.
“I think it is important that we listen to people with personal experience of homelessness and involve them in the decision making too.”
As the News has reported, questions of a permanent memorial to Stefania, who was often in Forest Hill station underpass, have divided opinion.
Although some are in favour, others believe such a marker – with ideas suggested including a mural in the station underpass Stefania frequented – would be an inappropriate.
Ms Phipps told the News a permanent memorial “isn’t currently within the scope” of their fundraising, but they would be keen to explore ideas including an artist-designed seat in Forest Hill station underpass.