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News in brief, March–April 2018

 
February 28th 2018
 

Top: Tuck in, image © FoodCycle; below: Decay at the London Art Fair

Bed and work

Emmaus Cambridge, a community shelter that aims to provide homeless people with a bed and offer them useful work, is expanding its Landbeach Community to provide 10 more rooms, reports Cambridge News. Visitors to the charity shop at Landbeach can buy a brick and sign it for £5, which will go towards the building work that was due to start in January. Community director Diane Docherty believes the project provides the “perfect opportunity to support yet more vulnerable adults.”

 

Fire pilot

Nottingham council is running a pilot scheme that opens the main fire station to homeless people on nights the temperature drops below freezing. One couple, Michael and Sarah, who have been sleeping rough on the streets of Nottingham “for months”, called the scheme a “brilliant” idea.

Sleeping bags, toiletries, clothes and hot drinks were also on offer at the fire station, courtesy of volunteers from the British Red Cross. The BBC quotes Nottingham Fire and Rescue group manager who said, “Our goal is to create safer communities, and sometimes this goes further than things such as fire and road safety."

 

Helping hand

A Birmingham business owner has offered a homeless man in Sparkbrook a two-week trial at his car wash. Birmingham Mail reports that business owner Shezad Zaman had also provided Kriss Wilkes with accommodation.

 

Decay at the London Art Fair 2018

Project collaborators Hopeful Traders Clothing’s Charlie Wright with Marice Cumber, who runs Accumulate, a charity which empowers young homeless people through creativity. Charlie’s T-shirt is from a design by Deborah Okako, one of the Evolve hostel residents (aged 16-25) in Stockwell who made Accumulate’s second zine, Decay. Next zine will be made at workshops with House of St Barnabas’ employment academy graduates.
accumulate.org.uk

 

Nightstop

Young people facing the prospect of sleeping rough in Glasgow can now have temporary shelter in residents’ spare rooms. Launched by the Simon Community Scotland (SCS) the initiative offers a maximum of three nights' accommodation, over three weeks, during which the young people will be given intensive support, reports Scottish Housing News. To date the scheme, known as Nightstop, has trained four volunteer hosts, with three more being trained, but the plan is to recruit far more.

 

Free cuts

An Edinburgh police box that was transformed into a barbershop for homeless men, in Leith, now also offers haircuts to homeless women, reports The London Economic. The blue box is fitted with electricity and running water and provides toiletries, tea and biscuits. It’s open on the last Saturday of every month.

 

Tap chuggers

Social enterprise TAP London is aiming to provide homeless people with work as charity fundraisers on the streets of London. Employees are provided with a box that takes contactless payment, with the current charge being £3, £2 of which goes towards the salary of the fundraiser, while the remaining money is split between two charities. Fundraisers are paid the London living wage, currently £9.75 an hour, and are paid regardless of how many contributions they receive from the public, according to Reuters.

Co-founder Katie Whitlock is hopeful the scheme can have a positive impact as “more employment opportunities are needed. Homeless individuals are rarely given a chance to be part of their solution.”
taplondon.org

 

Snoring success

Following the success of the original event, more Sleep in the Park nights are being planned for Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh according to the Scotsman. The first sleep-out, held in Edinburgh in December, is expected to help 500 people off the streets, through the £4 million raised by 8,000 attendees.

 

Love not money

A meeting hosted by Love Southampton saw 70 delegates from groups based in the city, discuss how to improve the conditions of the increasing numbers of homeless people in the city. Staff from local businesses and politicians of all parties discussed ways to ease the plight of a growing number of Southampton’s population, with closer links between charities discussed at length. Also discussed was the need for more accommodation across the city, reports the Daily Echo. “We hope that this leads to collaborative working and creative solutions for the good of all in our city," said organiser Paul Wood. Practical advice on the website explains to the public why people beg, but recommends not giving spare change.
http://www.lovesouthampton.org. uk/housing/

 

Rental challenge

A new report by the London School of Economics recommends the government better support social landlords and councils to expand and improve private renting. Private Renting: can social landlords help? uses evidence from 20 social landlords, four local authorities, three housing charities and a number of private landlord organisations.

“One of the most contradictory developments in private renting lies in the growth in buy-to-let tenancies on council estates. Many councils no longer have enough accommodation for homeless families that they are obliged to help, so they house them in private lettings in former right-to-buy properties on large social housing estates. Around 40 per cent of all right-to-buy properties are now re-let privately. This poses major challenges for housing management; it drives up Housing Benefit bills, and it causes maintenance problems on flatted estates. At the moment, there are no proposals to tackle this new form of problematic private renting in England. But the Scottish government has abolished the right- to-buy, and the Welsh Government is proposing to do likewise,” says the report.

 

Tuck in

In March when Norwood Junction (Croydon) opens, FoodCycle will be running a dozen London lunch clubs. Meals are made from food that would be thrown away and shared to tackle loneliness. Just six months after FoodCycle Finsbury Park opened, it celebrated serving the 1,000th meal with a lunch for 72 guests at Finsbury Park Community Hub. Local MP Jeremy Corbyn popped in and thanked the 14 volunteer cooks and their guests, adding: “Homelessness is a growing problem in London but this shows there are a lot of people who don’t just pass by.” Find your nearest at www.foodcycle.org.uk 

 

Valentine tragedy

Government figures reveal that on any one night, Westminster has the most rough sleepers (217). Tragically, there’s now one less homeless man seeking shelter in Westminster tube underpass. Early on 14 February, after a chilling night, a homeless man died in Exit Three, a few metres from the Houses of Parliament.

People do freeze to death in the streets, even in the UK. But the term ‘homeless’ is not used as a cause of death. In this case, police were treating the man’s death as “unexplained not suspicious”, reported the Guardian and Independent.

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner tweeted: “A homeless man who was seen frequently at the tube entrance to Portcullis House Westminster underground station has been found dead today. Whatever the circumstances it's a terrible tragedy that somebody ends their days like this, the govt must do more to combat homelessness.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn left flowers and a card, saying: “This should never have happened. As a country we must stop walking by. Rest in peace.”

Every death of a homeless person is an outrage. But when it happens on the government’s doorstep, could it be the turning point? As the Pavement goes to press we have to hope so.

In November St Martins-in-the-Fields holds a service to “commemorate those people whose lives have been shortened by homelessness.” At this service, names are read out of everyone who has died on the streets that year, or in hostels and shelters, as well as those who moved on to more settled lives, but who still relied on homelessness services.

Send names of anyone you know to have died during 2018 to info@housingjustice.org.uk to be read out at the service. The Pavement also publishes the list on our website.

 
 
 

Mar/Apr 2018

 

Contents

Off balance

GP will see you

Public shift

Numbers up

Only in Scotland

News in brief, March–April 2018

Why suicide?

Off balance

Everybody hurts

Not a number

First person

You are not alone

I feel good

 

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