June 9, 2014
I read with interest that homeless studs have been installed at the entrance of a block of luxury flats in London. The studs are to deter homeless for bedding down ear the entrance to the flats. Clearly the sight of people destitute has been unpalatable to some of the residents. Similar strategies are used to deters pigeons from nestling down on various buildings across the capital.
Anti-homeless spikes not a new phenonenon
Although the Telegraph (1) stated that similar anti-homeless spikes have been used elsewhere in London and it’s not a new phenomenon, it is still shocking that such measures are taken to deter humans from seeking shelter in the doorway of a building to avoid the worst of the weather and cold.
Katharine Sacks-Jones, Head of Policy and Campaigns at homelessness charity Crisis, said: “It is a scandal that anyone should sleep on the streets in 21st century Britain. Yet over the last three years rough sleeping has risen steeply across the country and by a massive 75 per cent in London.” (1)
Accommodation – basic human need
Shelter (accommodation) is a basic human need and without this need being met the outcome can be life threatening. Temperatures during a British winter have been known to kill those sleeping out on the streets.The life expectancy of those homeless is around 30 years less than the average UK resident. Criss undertook a piece of research called ‘homelessness the silent killer’ – it found that:
…homeless people in the UK who suffer the stresses and strains of alcoholism and substance abuse live only a little longer than those in the poorest countries, with the average age of death at 47 for men and 43 for women. This compares with 77 for the general population.(2)
I believe those of us fortunate enough to sleep in warm houses, sheltered from the worst that the UK weather can throw at us, should be appalled that there are people out there dying on our streets due to lack of shelter.
Reasons behind homeless
You might say that it is their own fault that they are homeless? I have met and worked with those who are homeless at various points in my career and the reasons behind homelessness are complex. For some these are related to addiction issues or mental health problems but for others a poor set of circumstances has led them to where they are. I heard a saying that we are all just two decisions or steps away from being homeless. It is true – life can be fragile and things can happen very quickly that lead us to be in a vulnerable position such as loss of job, a relationship breakdown, physical or mental illness etc. So there by the ‘grace of God go I.’
Shouldn’t we as a ‘sophisticated’ modern society ensure that all our citizens basic human needs are met?
How you can help
You may ask how can I help? How can I make it right for these individuals? Firstly by standing up and saying the Government should provide funding for organisations to provide the right support and accommodation for these individuals. You could comment on appropriate on-line forums or write to your MP saying we should seek to end this. Ensuring communities have the the right support structures and appropriate accommodation in place is the answer. Strategies such as putting in place ‘homeless studs’ only move the problem out of sight but it should never be out of mind!
You could also commit to financially supporting a charity that works with homeless people in your area, you could even volunteer at one of the shelters or hostels. Tap into Google your nearest town, district or borough and then ‘homeless hostel’ to see what comes up.
What Langley House Trust is doing
Langley House Trust has a homeless hostel in Bury called Tekoa House. Tekoa House provides accommodation for both women and men who are homeless. Langley House needs your support to provide more Tekoa Houses. Together we can make a difference and see people homeless people, some of them just like me or you, be given the chance of their own accommodation. Let us be a nation that is proud of showing its compassion to others.
This week’s blog is from Tracy Wild, CEO, Langley House Trust, 9th June 2014