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The truth about homelessness and the plight of some of the most vulnerable people in our society and Britain today

Police dismantle soup kitchen for London homeless, evict activists.

Social justice activists determined to feed the homeless have faced eviction for the second time following their attempts to open a soup kitchen in Westminster, in the heart of London. They were forcibly ousted by police Tuesday night.

Following their eviction from a listed Victorian building near Trafalgar Square they had been occupying in the run-up to Christmas, the group decided to set up a soup kitchen outside.

Since December 25, they had been distributing food, coffee and tea outside the vacant offices to people sleeping rough on the streets of London.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, the group, who call themselves the ‘Love Activists’ said that the situation facing the homeless in central London has hit crisis point. Services to help the homeless in the area are woefully inadequate, they argued, with all dedicated centers due to remain closed until January 3.

Since charities like Shelter and Crisis have now finished their own Christmas campaigns that feed thousands of homeless ‘The Love Activists’ are one of the only groups protecting the vulnerable now the group warned saying it would not be moved on by the council,

But on Tuesday night, police officers and council staff forcibly ousted the activists from the area and forced them to dismantle their soup kitchen.

It is thought the authorities wanted to clear the street in preparation for New Year’s Eve festivities.

A member of the Love Activists described the standoff, which culminated in eventual eviction, as “class warfare.”

Prior to Christmas, the group occupied the building near Trafalgar Square with the intention of offering a free and nutritious festive meal to homeless Londoners on Christmas Day.

They made their way into the five-story building on the morning of December 20, having discovered a fire escape door that was open. Following their entry, the activists claimed on their Facebook page the building had been “taken by the people.”

The campaigners made the decision to occupy the premises and offer food to Londoners who have fallen on hard times in protest at rising levels of inequality in Britain, and an ever-growing housing crisis.

The protesters faced eviction from the building, however, on the morning of December 24. Nevertheless, a high court judge amended the eviction injunction that evening to allow the group to regain access to prepare a festive meal for local homeless people on December 25.

The Love Activists subsequently provided a simple lunch to homeless people who made their way to the office block on Christmas Day.

The building’s recent history resonates deeply with the focus of the group’s protest. It had previously been rented by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), a scandal-ridden bank which required an astronomical bailout at UK taxpayers’ expense.

One of the Love Activists, 22-year-old Danny Freeman, told The Guardian that the fact the building was previously leased by RBS made the group’s core message of “homes not banks” more profound.

In the aftermath of a 2008 banking crisis, which brought Britain’s economy to its knees, RBS was nationalized and bailed out by British taxpayers. It is currently 79 percent owned by the state.

Years later, a lawsuit against RBS remains ongoing. Former executives at the bank stand accused of deceiving its shareholders. In a climate of grueling austerity, characterized by relentless cuts to social services, the RBS bailout cost UK taxpayers £45 billion.

Earlier this month, it emerged that glaring failures by local authorities to protect vulnerable children and teenagers in Britain have reduced them to sleeping rough on the streets, on night buses, in police stations and in drug dens. Many are thought to be at high risk of abuse.

According to Crisis the leading homelessness charity in Britain, 2,414 people across the nation are estimated to be sleeping rough each night. This marks a 37 percent increase since 2010, when the current Conservative-led government came to power.

Despite Tuesday night’s eviction, the Love Activists are determined to continue providing food and clothing to homeless people in central London. The group reportedly re-erected their soup kitchen in Trafalgar Square on Wednesday morning in front of the National Portrait Gallery.

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Behind the scenes of ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ The Long Walk To End Homelessness

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Last week we caught up with Christian as we continue to film the documentary ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ We will be catching up again once more which will be the finish to the film and his story about his walk to end and raise awareness for the homeless. Christian also joined us on our ‘Sleep out for Crisis’ where we have met our target that we wanted to raise.

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Here is Christian being interviewed on green screen and a exclusive look behind the scenes for you.

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We look forward to showing the film when finished and to those who really do support the homeless charities then here is the link to donate to Crisis who look after some of the most vulnerable homeless people in the UK.

Thanks very much,
https://www.justgiving.com/teams/TheLynchMobAgency

Homelessness News – Mass Eviction Of London Homeless As Police Swoop again In Operation Encompass

Police and immigration officials swooped on London’s homeless hotspots this morning in a clamp down on rough sleepers and beggars.

Officers descended on popular sleeping points, including Marble Arch, at around 4am this morning in a joint operation with the UK Border Agency to target those in the country illegally.

Dubbed Operation Encompass, the officers and border officials “processed” 37 people and made scores more leave.

Of the 37, there were 35 who were given “cease and desist” notices, one will be removed from the country and another agreed to return to Romania.

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The operation was also intended to enforce new EU regulations, which state anyone who abuses the right of free movement between EU countries can be removed from the UK and banned from returning for 12 months.

Commander Alison Newcomb, the police officer who led the operation, said: “”Officers work with immigration partners to utilise legislation launched in January regarding removal from the UK, where the grounds exist. They also make referrals to outreach projects in order to help vulnerable individuals break the cycle they find themselves in when sleeping rough, while taking affirmative action against persistent offenders who break the law or cause intimidation to passing members of public.

“Begging will not be tolerated in the City of Westminster or any other London borough. Wherever possible people begging will be arrested and ASBOs sought where appropriate.”

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The Lynch Mob Agency Sleep out for Crisis.

On Sunday 17th August a few people from ‘The Lynch Mob Agency’ a supporting artist agency for TV & Films based in London ‘Slept out for Crisis’ the homeless charity. On the night out on the streets of London they was joined by Christian Nock who over the last 2 years walked the entire UK coastline sleeping rough every night to raise awareness for the homeless and where they was also joined by his girlfriend Kelly too.

They would like to thank all those that helped them to spread a awareness of some of the UK’s most vulnerable people that live on our UK streets and to those that donated and sponsored which as helped the homeless too.

If you would like to give a quid or two then follow the link below. Thank you.
https://www.justgiving.com/JohnnyLynch

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Vulnerable Man evicted by Private Landord in London. What follows is shocking.

 

FOURTEEN people were arrested at the eviction protest.

An estimated 40 police officers broke up the demonstration in Lymington Road after a stand-off began at around 3pm.

The campaigners said a tenant had been ordered to leave private rented accommodation after a council inspector had ruled that the room he was renting was too small to live in.

Pamela Aukle, 45, from the KUWG, who was arrested during the protests, said the man – known as Mark – had “no money” and the “council have nothing for him”.

“Anything they offer is outside of Camden,” she added.

Police described the high-level presence as a “proportionate response”.

The landlord was not available for comment.

Homelessness news – Romford ‘hero’ unearths bedroom tax loophole which could see 40,000 receiving a refund

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Up to 40,000 people will receive a refund thanks to a Romford “hero” after he discovered that the government have wrongly assessed who is liable for the bedroom tax.

A conservative estimate puts the cost to the government at £26million.

Peter Barker, a freelance benefits specialist, of Hillfoot Avenue Romford, discovered the loophole in December but last week the Department for Work and Pensions confirmed his analysis.

By his estimations, up to 90 tenants in Havering could be eligible for an average refund of £770.

It has also been reported that the suicide of the woman from Solihull who, in a note, blamed her death on the financial strains aggravated by the bedroom tax would have been exempt and, if she was still alive, eligible for a refund.

Mr Barker, 53, spotted the oversight made by the DWP in legislation they drafted in 1996. Housing benefit regulations from 1996 were not updated when the coalition created the bedroom tax.

He said: “I just put my findings onto an online discussion forum. I just expected people to find it interesting but instead in went viral.

“There was such a twitter storm over this. Until December I had just one follower and that was my sister-in-law. Now I’ve got people contacting on me on there hailing me as a hero.”

He explained that the area of legislation had become far to overcomplicated and described it as “an accident waiting to happen”.

The bedroom tax sees working age council and housing association tenants with spare bedrooms lose up to 25 per cent of their housing benefits.

It affected 660,000 claimants meaning they either had to move homes, find a way to pay the deficit or downsize to a smaller property.

Peter Barker on his revelations BELOW

In December, I suggested that council and housing association tenants getting housing benefit for the same home since 1996 are exempt from the bedroom tax. Last week ministers acknowledged that my analysis is correct. Councils are now indentifying tenants eligible for refunds.

The refund is available to people whose housing benefit is reduced by the bedroom tax and who have been on housing benefit for the same home since January 1996 without a break. One break of up to four weeks is ignored and a longer break is ignored if you started work after being long term sick and then became sick again within 52 weeks.

In some cases, the exemption can be passed from one person to another.

Some councils are finding that their records as far back as 1996 are not easy to search and in some cases have been destroyed completely. So if you think you qualify for the exemption contact the council’s benefits department.

If the council does not agree that you qualify, you can appeal as long as the council receives it within 13 months of the original bedroom tax decision last year. For most people this will be around the end of March so there is still time.

Homelessness news – Government to stop funding for low-income families facing emergencies

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Department for Work and Pensions to cut £180m support; Children’s Society alarmed at ‘blow to critical safety net.

A £180m-a-year hardship fund providing emergency help for low-income families who suffer sudden financial crisis as a result of domestic violence, ill-health or natural disaster such as flooding is to be scrapped, it has emerged.

Technical documents released just before Christmas suggest the Department for Work and Pensions plans to cut its cash allocation to local authority welfare assistance schemes in 15 months’ time.

Charities warned this would lead to a postcode lottery in local welfare help and trigger a rise in the number of people becoming dependent on loan sharks or charitable support, such as food banks.

Matthew Reed, chief executive of the Children’s Society, said the removal of government funding for local crisis schemes was alarming. “This is yet another blow to what was once a critical safety net for families facing such unpredictable emergencies and disasters as flooding, or simply running out of money to buy food for their children or feed the electricity meter.

“We urgently need a clear commitment from government to provide local authorities with sustainable funding to support families facing an unexpected financial crisis. Without this, many more families will be forced to turn to food banks, or to use loan sharks or high-cost money lenders.”

Local welfare assistance schemes were set up in 152 local authorities in England in April, after the old, nationally administered social fund was “localised” as part of the Welfare Reform Act.
The schemes are comprised of two elements – crisis support, which is designed to help penniless people with vital short-term expenses such as food or clothes; and community care grants, which would help people in severe crisis obtain basic living essentials such as beds and cooking equipment.

The ending of the £180m funding stream in April 2015 is likely to lead to a sporadic provision of crisis help because some councils, which have no statutory duty to provide local welfare, might decide to close their schemes altogether.
A DWP spokeswoman confirmed that it would no longer fund the schemes after 2014-15, saying that future arrangements were a matter for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Although the DWP had always made it clear there were no guarantees of funding after 2014-15, it had promised to review the progress of the schemes before taking a decision on future funding.

It confirmed to the Guardian on Friday that it would carry out the planned progress review of local schemes in the next few months, but it would be up to councils and the DCLG to act on its findings.

The DWP has always claimed the fund was ineffectively targeted, and that councils are best placed to judge how much to allocate to local crisis welfare provision.
A spokeswoman for the DCLG said that from 2015 local welfare is to be funded from local authority general funds.

Though some councils will continue to fund some kind of local crisis fund, many will decide they can no longer afford it. In November, Nottinghamshire county council proposed to scrap its £2.1m welfare scheme in April as part of a £151m cuts programme.

Local welfare schemes have proved controversial because most councils have refused to give out cash loans, which were available under the social fund, but have instead provided “in kind” support in the form of food vouchers, and referrals to food banks.

Many councils have set strict eligibility criteria – many exclude applicants who have received benefit sanctions, while others refuse to help low-paid working families – meaning that many applicants have been turned away.
A recent survey suggested the harsh criteria meant many councils had massively underspent their funds so far this year despite evidence of huge demand.

I have known and am proud to know Wayne Miles over half my life and he celebrates his Norfolk homeless accommodation reaching its 16th birthday

Pippa Lain-Smith, Wayne Miles (centre), Sharon Reynolds and Jade Brophy celebrate the 16th birthday at Winston Court

Pippa Lain-Smith, Wayne Miles (centre), Sharon Reynolds and Jade Brophy celebrate the 16th birthday at Winston Court

A supported accommodation centre for homeless young people in Norfolk has celebrated its 16th birthday. This month, Winston Court in North Walsham, is celebrating 16 years of providing homeless young people from across the county, and beyond, with a safe place to live and help in planning independent, fulfilled futures. The supported accommodation centre, one of the first services set up by Norfolk charity The Benjamin Foundation, aims to provide hope, opportunity, stability and independence for vulnerable 16 to 25 year olds. Wayne Miles, manager at Winston Court, said: “I’ve worked at Winston Court since it opened in 1997, and to date we have helped over 300 young people get their lives back on track. “We now accommodate 15 young people at a time, twice our initial capacity, within nine single accommodation rooms and six semi-independent ‘move on’ flats. “The centre is a warm and welcoming place, staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year round, by a dedicated team of support workers who help residents to address any particular issues they may have.

“We are really proud that all of our residents are currently studying, training or in employment; a testament to the nurturing environment we strive to achieve and maintain.” He said some of his personal highlights in the last 16 years included working with young people who were at a transitional stage in their lives. He added: “Over the years I am proud to have been chosen as Godparent to five young children of former residents, plus staff and I have attended a couple of weddings of former residents. “One former resident is now a senior support worker himself and another was on national television recently commenting on current affairs. Every day is different and every resident is a unique individual.” For more information about Winston Court and other services provided by The Benjamin Foundation, call 01692 500999 or visit http://www.benjaminfoundation.co.uk

Homelessness – This is new track from Dodgy and ‘Christmas at the Foodbank’ starring our good friend Eddie Webber (The Business, The Firm)

This is from our good friend Kris Thompson.
The song titled ‘Christmas at the Food Bank’ is available to download now on iTunes, with all proceeds going to the Trussell Trust who provides food to people going hungry this Christmas. Please share this.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/christmas-at-foodbank-single/id770937588

Alarmingly, The Trussell Trust predict that this Christmas 60,000 people in the UK will need to use a food bank.

3 times more than last Christmas.
1 in 3 UK children will be living in poverty.
1 in 5 UK mums will skip meals to feed their children.

It would be amazing if we could get this issue some much needed exposure. Please do share the video on facebook and twitter and ask your friends to do so as well. It’s all for a great cause.

Thanks

Johnny Lynch

Homelessness news – Council ‘to use all available bylaws’ to ban Croydon soup kitchen

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I was out with the homeless last week in Croydon and Bromley and I found out that council leaders want to use “all available bylaws” to ban a soup kitchen for the poor and homeless.

The kitchen, run by volunteers and set up by charity Nightwatch, provides food and drink for sometimes up to 50 people an evening in Queen’s Gardens. But a secret council report says the soup kitchen is causing antisocial behavior in the town center and affecting nearby businesses.

The charity received the council’s Voluntary Organisation of the Year Award last year.

Efforts to prevent it from using Queen’s Gardens, which it has done for more than 30 years, are detailed in a yet to be published report entitled Town Centre – Food Provision. The document was discussed at a meeting of senior councillors and council officers. It said the soup kitchen ban is part of a wider effort to tackle antisocial behaviour in the town centre specifically aimed at “street drinkers, beggars and other rowdy behavior”..

The soup kitchen is held every night of the year on the upper level of Queen’s Gardens.

It sees volunteers from churches across the borough give out donated food and drinks – as well as toiletries, duvets and clothes – to the homeless and destitute, and can attract up to 50 people a night. But the council believes its customers are a public nuisance.

Nightwatch were informed of the plan to ban the soup kitchen and wrote a letter to the council stating there were not any issues. However, the report said: “Police do not agree and the data supports the police view”. “The soup kitchen attracts individuals that we are actively targeting into the area,” it adds.

The report details a number of bylaws covering Queen’s Gardens which could be used to stop the soup kitchen, and notes that people who breach them are liable to be fined up to £50.

The report also says the soup kitchen could be moved to a different location, but adds the preferred approach is to close it down “utilising all available bye laws and preventing the use of Queen’s Gardens for this activity”.

Statutory homelessness in Croydon is at an eight year high and, during a count completed last Tuesday, rough sleepers were also found to be at record levels.

We have to work together to face these challenges in society, not attack each other over different manifestations of the problem.