Joe Lycett has raised more than £50,000 for a homelessness charity by posting an image of a bowl of potpourri on social media in response to Suella Braverman’s comments about rough sleeping.
The 35-year-old comedian told his 1.4 million Instagram followers he wanted to support the charity Crisis after the home secretary branded the use of tents by the homeless “a lifestyle choice”.
Uploading a stock image of potpourri, Lycett, who has been a vocal critic of Mrs Braverman in the past, said: “My old friend Suella Braverman has described rough sleeping as a ‘lifestyle choice’.
“I always thought lifestyle choices were things such as cargo pants, fishing and decorating your bathroom with a bowl of potpourri.
“I want to see if this image I found on Google, described as ‘wooden botanical fragrant potpourri bowl with lemon’, can raise £50,000 for homelessness charity Crisis UK.”
The fundraiser has since beaten its target – three days after being shared by Lycett.
In a post today, the comedian said: “I woke up this morning to see that a picture of a bowl of potpourri I posted just over two days ago has raised £50,000 for Crisis. A huge thank you to everyone who donated for their generosity.
“Of course, my main thanks must go to Suella – without your lifestyle choice, of being callous and cruel towards the most vulnerable people in society, none of this would’ve happened.
“There’s another choice coming to all of us fairly soon. It’s known as an election. Best of luck with it babe.”
The comedian has previously launched similarly high-profile political stunts.
He shred £10,000 of his own cash in the lead-up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar because David Beckham failed to end his controversial multimillion-pound World Cup promotion deal with the hosts – though he later revealed the money was fake.
Mrs Braverman outlined her wish to restrict the use of tents by homeless people in UK towns and cities last week.
“The British people are compassionate,” her statement read. “We will always support those who are genuinely homeless.
“But we cannot allow our streets to be taken over by rows of tents occupied by people, many of them from abroad, living on the streets as a lifestyle choice,” Mrs Braverman continued.
“Nobody in Britain should be living in a tent on our streets. There are options for people who don’t want to be sleeping rough, and the government is working with local authorities to strengthen wraparound support including treatment for those with drug and alcohol addiction.
“What I want to stop, and what the law abiding majority wants us to stop, is those who cause nuisance and distress to other people by pitching tents in public spaces, aggressively begging, stealing, taking drugs, littering, and blighting our communities.”
Her comments were met with widespread criticism from politicians and the public.
‘This is not a life people choose’
Crisis, which thanked Mr Lycett for his fundraising efforts, said in response to the home secretary: “Sleeping on the streets is not a lifestyle choice. We don’t have nearly enough affordable homes and rents are soaring, leaving people destitute and forced to sleep rough.
“In the last 12 months, in London, there’s been a 29% increase in people experiencing their first night on the streets. This is a consequence of poverty – and poverty in this country has been exacerbated by policy choices.
“It’s also down to stretched mental health services, as many people sleeping rough will have experienced trauma, often in early childhood, and are struggling to get the support they need.
“People sleeping rough often face violence & abuse. The impact on their physical and mental health is significant. The average age of death for people experiencing homelessness is just 45 for men and 43 for women. This is not a life people choose.”