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thePavement is the free magazine for the UK's homeless people

We are committed to publishing objective reportage, tailored to a homeless readership, and to publicising the complete range of services available to homeless people, to reduce hardship amongst our readers and to enable them to guide their future.

We believe that drives to produce homogenous services for homeless people are misguided, and that a range of service types and sizes are the only way to cater successfully for our diverse readership.

We believe that sleeping rough is physically and mentally harmful; however, we do not preach to those who chosen to, nor do we believe that all options to get off the streets are necessarily beneficial to long-term health and happiness.



Your rights

The Rights Guide for Rough Sleepers outlines your rights around arrest, stop and search, answering police questions, move-ons, no-drinking zones, sleeping rough, taking a pee in public and highway obstruction. It was put together by The Pavement, Housing Justice, Liberty and Zacchaeus 2000.

If your benefits have been sanctioned (cut off or reduced) and you feel this is unfair, you can appeal. Print this letter and hand it in at the office where you sign on. If you feel you need more advice about sanctions, contact  Zacchaeus 2000 or your nearest  Citizen’s Advice Bureau. And let us know at The Pavement!



If you are a journalist with some free time to research and write stories for the magazine, please contact us . For other volunteering opportunities, please approach organisations listed on our Services pages or your local volunteer centre


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In the latest issue


Jerry* spent over two years at Wandsworth Prison before finishing his sentence at the Isle of Sheppey. But while prison can be hard to deal with, he claims there are things you can do to help you avoid homelessness and get back on track after release. •...

Cheryl has spent the last 10 years in and out of Scotland’s main women’s prison Sometimes when I was homeless, I used to deliberately go out to get arrested. I would shoplift or commit a breach of the peace; a bed or a hot meal seemed like a...
Prison numbers are at an all-time high. The prison population of England...
Raynor Winn met ex-offenders who went walking and found it saved their...
Leading charity DrugWise has said that homeless people will continue to be...
Mat Amp meets the homeless photographers ready to make their mark. Watch...


09 February 2017

Listen to our first 'From the Ground Up' podcast and hear from our team about the difficulties in getting help when you are homeless and also have both mental health and addiction issues. Produced by Steve Urquart.

09 February 2017

Our Glasgow Word On The Street project went so well that we are now running it in London. Véronique Mistiaen, lecturer and human rights journalist, led the second session, 'How to tell your own story'. you can read more about the project on her blog, The Right Human. Check out the trainees' blog to follow their progress from newbie to news hound.

23 June 2015

Will you use your admin ninja skills to help a unique small charity working to support homeless people?

Download PDF (141KB)

23 June 2015

Do you want to use your fundraising skills to support a unique small charity working to support homeless people?

Download PDF (146KB)

23 June 2015

Will you donate your a journalism or photography skills to help the homeless people we work to support?

Download PDF (146KB)

04 November 2014

Our Glasgow-based Word on the Street team of reporters and photographers – along with London guest writers, who also have experience of the homelessness – has been working hard on a special edition that tells it how it is: benefit sanctions, a cartoon about hostel life and how football can change the world, for starters. The WOTS team is: Iain Alan, Brenda Brown, Brian Dobbie, Jason Kelly, Peter Kelly, Jim Little, Caroline McCue, Alex McKay, Patrick O’Hare and Roddy Woods. Thanks, team!

19 August 2011

Wow.  The Pavement’s Homeless City Guide, which appears in every issue of the magazine, has made it into New York’s Museum of Modern Art. 

Latest Stories

 07 September 2017

Hope © Franco Folini , Creative Commons

Why do so many people end up homeless after leaving prison?

Leaving prison is a difficult time. There are so many adjustments to make: family to make up to; friends to reconnect to... and you may need to negotiate with some who could cause you harm.

And there are questions running through your mind: if you got clean inside, will you make it now you’re out? Are your benefits sorted? Will employers ever be able to see past criminal convictions?

It’s also time to find a new home. That’s not easy. If your sentence was13 weeks or more, your housing benefits will stop.

This means that for many people going to prison, pre-existing housing will no longer be available on release from prison.

If family and friends are not on your side, and the council don’t assess you as priority need, where do you go?

According to the Chain data – information centrally gathered about rough sleepers in London – 71 people on the streets of the UK capital gave their last settled address as prison.

Even more – 86 people, or three per cent, of rough sleepers said that the reason that they were homeless was that their jail sentence had come to an end.

(The most common reasons are eviction and family breakdown). 1,856 had experience of serving time in prison, a rise from 1,779 the previous year. In Westminster alone, 40 per cent of people sleeping rough have been in prison.

The Scottish Government revealed that in 2016–2017, six per cent of all applications for assistance with housing came from people being released from prison/ hospital/ care or another form of institution.

It’s even worse for women, three out of five of whom will end up homeless on release from prison. Last year it emerged that female prisoners leaving Bronzefield prison in Surrey were being given tents and sleeping bags on release.

Christine Buntrock, Operations Manager of Turning Point Scotland, which supports offenders leaving prison, said: “In our experience, housing and the risk of homelessness is a significant issue for people leaving prison.

“We believe more support should be available for people preparing to leave custody and once they return to their community.”

Daniel Lee, from London, knows what it’s like to find yourself street homeless after time in prison. He says he was lucky – he had family and friends who helped him out until he was back on his feet. But through his job as a case-worker in Ipswich for the St Giles Trust, a charity that supports offenders, he has met plenty of people who are not so fortunate.

Working with offenders from a local bail hostel, he is meant to help people access training, support and a job. But, in fact, an increasing amount of time is spent helping people with housing issues.

Many find themselves at the end of their stay in the hostel with nowhere to go. And if they don’t have a local connection, the council will refuse to house them. The only option open at that stage is to try to secure the rare bits of funding available to help people to get a deposit for a private let, along with enough to pay the rent until the funding comes through. It’s not easy. “If your basic needs are met, then you can function,” he says. “You can’t expect anyone who is homeless to get a job.” Yet that’s what homeless people have to do to prove a local connection if they don’t already have one. If they cannot, they will be sent back to the area they come from. “Some people are happy to back to the area they came from,” he says. “But some just can’t.

They don’t want to go back to their old life or they will be in danger – some have had death threats .”

He is working with a young man who has just completed a four-year sentence but can’t go back to his home town because death threats have been made against him.

The police don’t want to know, says Lee, and neither does the council. He has managed to get him into a night shelter but doesn’t know what this 21-year-old’s next step is.

“If there was more funding for people who have just been released from prison, it would be such a big help,” he says.

Crisis agrees, calling for more government money for Help to Rent schemes which offer tenants support and help reassure the landlord that the rent will be paid. They are also calling for a national rent deposit scheme, pointing out that there is a “help to buy” government scheme – why not help to rent?

There are plenty of support schemes out there but not all work, and reoffending rates remain high.

As Buntrock of Turning Point points out: “People are also spending a long time in temporary accommodation, reducing availability to other service users.

“Until someone has an address, the initial claim for ESA benefits is difficult, as they state you must have an address. That wait for financial support also increases the risk of homelessness and reoffending.”

The answer seems so simple: priority housing for everyone leaving prison and support to make that housing into a home while they get back on their feet.

Anything else is criminal.

Priority need When applying to the council, you need to show why you are in a priority need group.
Some local councils may treat you as being in ‘priority need' after prison or remand, but only if you can show how this has made you vulnerable. NB: In Scotland the council has no priority need category.
The council should take into account mental illness, learning or physical disability, background in care, the armed forces or if you are fleeing violence.

Intentionally homeless If you were evicted from your previous home because of criminal or antisocial behaviour, or because of rent arrears, or gave up your home while in prison, the council may decide you are intentionally homeless.
You can appeal this decision and get advice. In Scotland, the council should house you while it investigates.

What area? A local connection can be established by living, working, or having immediate family in the area. Time spent in prison in an area does not give you a local connection with the area the prison is in. However, if you are fleeing domestic violence, you can apply to any council.

Get help:


Inside out: Prison art on show

 07 September 2017

Painting from Memory, HMP Shotts, Silver Award for Theme: Journey © Koestler Trust

The British sculptor who created the iconic Angel of the North has curated a major exhibition of the work of prison artists serving time.

Antony Gormley, one of the UK’s most famous artists, has put together prison arts charity the Koestler Trust’s 10th annual exhibition. Held at the Southbank Centre in London from 21 September till 15 November, the works are by detainees in the UK’s prisons, secure hospitals and immigration removal centres as well as by ex-offenders in the community.

The Koestler Trust is the UK’s best-known prison arts charity. It runs the annual Koestler Awards to motivate people to take part in the arts and to show off the talent of people in the criminal justice system.

The works selected for the exhibition come from over 7,000 pieces of fine art, design, writing and music entered into this year’s Koestler Awards. Some of the artworks are for sale, with proceeds being divided between Victim Support, the Koestler Trust and the artists themselves.

Ex-offenders have also been trained and employed by the trust to provide guided tours and staff pop-up shops at the exhibition.

Antony Gormley, curator, said: “Art is a place in which you can do what you like. In the words of one prisoner: ‘in our minds, we can always be free”. I want this work to say something to all of us outside about what it feels like to be a detainee, inside.”

Sally Taylor, chief executive of the Koestler Trust, said that she was “thrilled” to have Gormley curate the show. “He is an inspirational figure and much-loved artist both for our entrants and for the general public,” she added. “We anticipate with great excitement a unique, provocative and thoughtful approach to the curation of the exhibition.”

As well as the Angel of the North, a 20-metre steel winged “angel” in Gateshead, Gormley is known for Another Place, a sculpture involving 100 cast iron figures facing towards the sea on Crosby Beach near Liverpool.

In 1994 he was awarded the Turner Prize and was quoted as saying he felt guilty and embarrassed to have won.

A separate exhibition by Koestler Trust Scotland will open at Glasgow’s Tramway exhibition space on 10 November. It is to be curated by Jenni Fagan, who wrote about the care system in The Panopticon, a reference to Jeremy Bentham’s 18th century concept for a prison designed so inmates could be unknowingly observed.


Prison system in worst state in 60 years

 07 September 2017

The prison system is more ‘chaotic and dangerous’ than it has been for 60 years, according to a high-profile former prisoner.

Eric Allison, who has been the Guardian newspaper’s prison correspondent since 2003, was first sent to prison at just 14 and in total has spent 16 years behind bars, all for theft-related offences.

He lived through the prison riots in Parkhurst, Strangeways and Hull, but claims that the situation is now “bleak” as prisons become increasingly overcrowded and violent.

His comments come after a new report by Peter Clarke, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, which notes “startling increases on all types of violence” in England and Wales’s prisons.

Clarke’s report states that violence levels in prison have worsened significantly in the last year. Murder and suicide in prisons is at a 25-year high, with a 27 per cent increase in all assaults in the last year. He also claims that none of the young offender units he inspected were safe for the young people serving time in them.

In the 12 months leading up to March 2017, 113 prisoners took their own lives and six murders occurred. Normally only one or two prison murders happen every year. Numbers of deaths in Scottish prisons – 28 last year and 16 already in 2017 - are also “shocking”, according to campaigners.

The use of drugs has also risen sharply, with drugs seized almost 30 times a day in prisons in England and Wales in the year leading up to March 2017. Inspectors found that 63 per cent of prisoners said it was “easy to get drugs” and 22 per cent of prisoners said they had begun taking drugs inside prison.

The report also states that prisoners are being kept locked in their cells for up to 23 hours per day. The recommendation is that prisoners should be unlocked for 10 hours a day, but the current low levels of staffing means that prisoners are being kept in their cells their own safety.

In his comment piece in the Guardian, Allison notes that he experienced a ‘better environment’ in prison following the 1991 Woolf report, written by former chief justice Harry Woolf, which recommended a better prison system.

“But I say, hand on heart, I have never seen the system in such a chaotic and dangerous state as it is now,” he continues.

He told the Pavement that society needed to reconsider its “culture of revenge” and question whether our “someone-must-pay mentality” is really addressing the problem of anti-social behaviour. “It is bleak,” he told us. “I hear horror stories all the time, but the public are seem to be so anæsthetised to it that it is not enough that a prisoner dies due to neglect. It doesn’t seem to result in any action being taken.

“We know that it’s not working – look at the re-offending rates. Honestly, I think that it’s worse than when I was young.”

And he stressed that prisoners should speak out and complain if they felt they were being mistreated.

“Prisoners can speak out and they can legitimately complain,” he added. “There are people who care, and there are people who can help.”

He also urged people to make the most of opportunities available inside including education and rehab support.

Justice Secretary David Lidington meanwhile has pledged that reforms are underway to make prison safer and has acknowledged the need for more staff.

“The work to make our prisons true places of reform and rehabilitation is already under way – and it will continue unabated,” he said.


How to complain

Prison Advice Service (PAS), UK-wide
0845 430 8923; open Mon, Wed & Fri, 10am–1pm & 2pm–5pm
Free legal advice and information to prisoners throughout England and Wales regarding their rights, conditions of imprisonment. Freephone number is available from Prison.

The Independent Prison Monitor, Scotland
0131 244 8482; open Mon–Fri, 9am–5pm
A ‘watchdog’ group who make sure prisons are properly run and will investigate complaints from prisoners. A prisoner can ask to speak to an independent prison monitor at any time via a freephone number or request a form.

Prison Ombudsman
UK-wide:; 0845 010 7938
Scotland only:; 0800 377 7330
Contact the Ombudsman if you have already made an internal complaint against a prison service but are not satisfied with the outcome. The Ombudsman advisors can often give you advice on how make a new complaint.


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