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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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.

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 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.

We think Christian as this covered but see how a backpack that converts to a tent is tackling helping Homelessness

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A unique backpack that converts into a bed may be the key to easing just a few of the indignities faced by homeless people living on the street. Water- and windproof, the fire-retardant, mildew-resistant Backpack Bed looks like a backpack, but easily transforms into crisis bedding, complete with a bag and lock to secure personal items. The nonprofit creator, Swags for Homeless (in their native Australia, “swag” means a one-man portable tent), uses a social enterprise model to fund production, and partners with 300+ welfare agencies in five countries–Australia, New Zealand, Germany, the United Kingdom, and now the United States–to distribute the beds to the chronic homeless and people who have been turned away from shelters for lack of space.

The product itself is actually five tools in one. It is a lightweight, ergonomic backpack and a windowed one-man tent. It has a built-in camp mat (which has an insulated lining to mitigate the dangerous effects of sleeping on cold surfaces), functions as a wind and sun shelter, and it even has a mosquito net pouch that can be pulled over the entire mat in lieu of the tent on hot nights.

To get one, the recipient must work with a caseworker at one of the 300+ partner agencies, which makes it a useful tool for signing up people for permanent housing programs.

HOMELESSNESS NEWS – A STARK REALITY OF TODAY AS ELDERLY MAN EVICTED, MADE HOMELESS AND LEFT TO DIE 23/11/2013

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This is the sick heartbreaking reality of today when an 80 plus year old gentleman has been evicted by his landlord because he could not pay his rent with no help what so ever. He has been let down by this government thrown on the street and left to die. He was found by one homeless person who gave their hot meal and blankets to this now homeless 80 plus year old gentleman who has been thrown out on to the streets with nothing but his shirt on his back and left to die. Has lost everything he owned and probably fought for. THIS HAS TO STOP NOW.

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Christmas guilt about homeless children is not enough, More than 80,000 children may spend Christmas in temporary accommodation facing homelessness.

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The housing charity Shelter has published a report revealing a picture of homelessness in England. More than 80,000 children face spending Christmas in temporary accommodation, a 10-year high. In the context of a government crowing about job creation and the economy “healing”, this may appear shocking. As someone who was homeless for a year, I do not find the figures in the least surprising. Nor, I should emphasise, are they entirely representative. They are simply a snapshot of the families that currently fall under a local authority’s restrictive definition of homeless. They do not take into account people dependent on the charity and sofa of a friend or relative, nor those who hide their status in shame – over 40% of rough sleepers hide their circumstances, just like I did.

Before I became destitute, while life was still sweet and carefree, it was simply easier to enjoy one’s existence while thinking of deprivation as a vague concept and ascribing it to fecklessness,laziness or inferiority of some sort. Reality bursts that bubble. Once you accept that someone’s starving 100m from where you’re throwing food away, life becomes morally complicated.

There is a psychological imperative for people latching on to the idea that UK poverty is not real; that homelessness is a lifestyle choice; that food banks are supply driven. State and media rhetoric which, to a large extent, designates poor people as deserving or undeserving, feeds into this denial. One side of the argument projects on our psyche an image of the poor, carefully perpetuated by chatshow hosts, exploiting the system to live an easy life on benefits. The other counter-imposes a picture of faultless, Madonna-like mothers with babes in arm, in squalid conditions. Both are unhelpful, because they allow one to believe that most are the former and exceptions should be made for the latter. The truth is, there are saints and there are sinners, but the vast majority of us are somewhere in the middle.

Most people’s journey to becoming homeless, myself included, deserves neither approbation nor censure. Unforeseen circumstances combined with some bad choices put me there. I take responsibility for those choices, but it is irrationally cruel to deny that life – health, security, family – includes elements of unpredictability. I made plenty of mistakes while financially secure; the fat of a generous monthly salary absorbed them. I made fewer mistakes once my finances began to decline, but each and every one was punished with severity. Poverty is not unforgivable. It is unforgiving. A friend recently described the situation of moving from shelter to shelter with her kids: “Things wear out and don’t get replaced. You wear out and there’s nothing to replace.”

While I was sofa-surfing, relying on the charity of those around me, the state refused to help. My circumstances were simply not desperate enough, even though my trajectory was utterly predictable. By the time I became properly homeless, I had become so itinerant that I couldn’t demonstrate a “sufficient local connection” to any council. And that is my point. It is much more expensive to rescue someone who has fallen through the safety net than to fix the fabric of the net. “We’ve given councils nearly £1bn to tackle homelessness and to support people affected by the welfare reforms, so I am very clear that they should be fully able to meet their legal responsibility,” says housing minister Kris Hopkins. We gave a billion pounds. We did our best.

A minister acts within the confines of the political space we permit. There is an intellectual inconsistency to supporting measures that exile people to the desert of poverty, then shedding a tear during the season of goodwill for those who find themselves there. We deny the existence of such misery, refuse to let it inform our political choices and then wring our hands at the reality. Homelessness doesn’t just happen. Cuts in local authority budgets and mental health services, police budgets unable to cope with domestic violence, an arbitrary benefit cap, a penalty on spare rooms, the sale and lack of replenishment of social housing stock, the hardening of rules on squatting – all these things make it happen.

It is not enough to get a pang of guilt around Christmas time, when a charity forces us to face the reality of people living in abject poverty. We are the seventh richest country in the world. The shame of poverty is all of ours to share, all year round.