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.

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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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

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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Homelessness news – Homeless man loses benefits after police return money he found on street.

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Am sorry but this as shocked us.

A homeless man who handed in a wad of cash he found on the street has been stripped of his benefits.

James Brady had no place to live when he found £530 after leaving a local shelter in April but immediately turned the cash over to police.

He was allowed to keep the money six months later after no one came forward to claim it, but his good deed has proved costly.

Mr Brady, who has recently found housing, had his government benefits suspended when he failed to report the new income.

HOMELESSNESS NEWS – People of London, take your old coats to Waterloo, Kings Cross, London Bridge, Canary Wharf, Victoria, Charing Cross, Euston, Baker Street or Highbury and Islington to donate them to the homeless!! It’s this Wednesday to Friday!

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People of London, take your old coats to Waterloo, Kings Cross, London Bridge, Canary Wharf, Victoria, Charing Cross, Euston, Baker Street or Highbury and Islington to donate them to the homeless!! It’s this Wednesday to Friday.

What do you do when you meet someone who is suffering from homelessness ?

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I always hear mixed responses to whether you should give homeless people money on the street. Some say it only fuels addiction. So what is the best way in your day to day life to help the homeless?

My answer was always the same “It’s your choice, but have the decency to look someone in the eye and acknowledge them.” That sounds simple, but the fact is, many people who are on the street are routinely ignored, sworn at, harassed, robbed and assaulted. Having someone look them in the eye and recognise them as a person can be very affirming.

Personally, I don’t give money frequently, but I do on occasion. Working in a big urban environment means that a walk could result in several encounters with people who are on the streets sleeping rough. I also prefer not to pull my wallet out in the middle of the street  not for fear but rather of an opportunistic thief so it will also depend if I have change in my pocket.

its really is a choice that you need to make for yourself. However, if you choose to give someone money, what that money gets spent on is no longer in your control. When I give a waiter/waitress a tip at a restaurant I don’t get to dictate that they should only buy food or pay for housing with it. The money is theirs and the spending choice is theirs.

If you’re worried about the money going to alcohol or drugs there are a few options:

Give the money to an organisation working with people experiencing homelessness.
Buy a street newspaper such as the ‘Big Issue’
Buy a small gift card – i.e. for a local coffee shop or fast food restaurant.
Use the money to donate food to a food bank.

Buying food instead of giving money is something that a lot of people ask about and it is going to come down to choice for the person on the street again. I’m the world’s pickiest eater; I would have a hard time trusting that the food someone hands me on the street is safe, edible and something I will like. Most of us like to have the ability to choose what we want to eat and when we want to eat it. Giving someone a coffee instead of cash may be your preference, but if it’s the fifth coffee they’ve been handed in 20 minutes, they may well refuse it.

One thing I hope you get from this post is its down to you but please acknowledge a homeless person because there human just like us and some of the most vulnerable people in the UK today.

Private rented sector still most common way to solve homelessness, figures show

Hotspot news

Less use was made of landlord incentive schemes to get people at risk of homelessness into private rented accommodation last year, but it was still the most common solution, official figures released yesterday show.

Statistics issued by the Department for communities and local government (DCLG) show in 2012/13 a total of 202,400 cases of homelessness intervention for households and individuals took place outside the current legal framework.

Under the Homelessness Act 2002, local housing authorities must have a strategy for preventing homelessness in their area. Such action plans must cover non-priority cases as well as incidents where people make themselves homeless intentionally.

The overwhelming majority (90%) of such actions were some 181,500 preventions by helping people find alternative accommodation or aid to stay in their own home.

In addition, 21,000 instances of relief support, where authorities cannot prevent homelessness and have no legal obligation to do so, made up the remaining 10% of help offered.

More than half (53%) of all help given was in the form of helping households find alternative accommodation, a 4% dip in the proportion the previous year. However, the share of help which involved helping households stay in their existing homes increased by the same proportion, from 43% in 2011/12 to 47% in 2012/13.

The most common preventative action to prevent homelessness was the use of landlord incentive schemes to secure private rented accommodation. Around 26,2000 cases, some 13% of the total were dealt with in this way, although this was a decrease of 5% compared to the 18% proportion in 2011/12.

But on posting this today on my WordPress blog, Facebook and Twitter I decided to dig a little deeper and figures show that Nine million people now pay rent to private landlords in the UK after the reckless expansion of the buy-to-let market, with too many stuck in expensive, substandard homes and desperately insecure tenancies. The sheer number of recommendations for sweeping reform in a House of Commons select committee report this week is itself testament to just how deep the problems are in this sector.

Letting agents should face far tougher rules, says the committee. The worst should be banned. Tenants need to be protected from the appalling rise in letting agency fees, with the committee proposing that adverts for properties reveal every add-on fee. Councils should have new powers to weed out rogue landlords who soak up billions from housing benefit but leave their tenants in dirty, damp and overcrowded homes.

The committee also recommends a reform of letting contracts to remove the constant threat of eviction for families forced into renting long term. The report highlighted one tenant, Carl Thomas, whose 10-year-old daughter had already moved seven times.

But two words are conspicuously absent from the long list of recommendations: rent control.
Conservatives reel in horror at the idea of rent control, which they blame for the dilapidation and collapse of the rental market in the 1960s. Landlords, unable to put up the rent, simply let their properties (and tenants) rot. A return to rent control will strangle supply, returning us to the bad old days, they warn. Yet the same people used the same economic theory to oppose minimum wage legislation – and were wrong then, too.

I would just point out and its the bedroom tax which is what I blog about a great deal that wasn’t included and the cuts to housing benefit will certain bring a big increase to the homelessness figure.

Homelessness legislation should change to reflect the truly ‘vulnerable’

Hotspot news

Homelessness could be turned into a crime under proposed anti-social behaviour laws.

The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing bill, which featured in the Queen’s Speech in May earlier this year , includes powers to ban certain activities from designated areas including banning spitting, banning homeless or young people from parks, banning begging or rough sleeping and banning smoking in outdoor public places.

The Housing Act 1996 requires housing authorities to provide accommodation to homeless people, in the public or private sector, where an applicant did not make themselves homeless and has a priority need. A person has a priority need if, among other things, he or she is vulnerable because of a disability, mental illness, age or other special reason.

The Court of Appeal heard in the case of Pereira v Camden Council, had held that a person is vulnerable if their circumstances are such that they would suffer more when homeless than ‘the ordinary homeless person’ and would suffer an injury or other detriment that the ordinary homeless person would not.

Defining ordinary
This begs the question, who is the ordinary homeless person? What are his or her characteristics? What harm would they suffer? The Court of Appeal recently considered this question in Johnson v Solihull.

Craig Johnson was 37 years old. He was a heroin addict and had previously suffered from depression. For years he didn’t have a home of his own. He applied to Solihull Council for accommodation. Solihull was satisfied that he was homeless, but declined to provide him with accommodation because, in its view, he was not vulnerable. In reaching this decision, Solihull’s reviewing officer relied upon a report which showed that the vast majority of homeless people suffered from drug problems; Mr Johnson’s circumstances therefore meant that he was no different to the ‘ordinary homeless person’ and was not vulnerable.

The Court of Appeal dismissed Mr Johnson’s appeal. The reviewing officer had been entitled to find that the ordinary homeless person was likely to suffer from drug problems and to draw the comparison, and reach the conclusion, that he did.

Controversial decision
This is the type of decision that most people are likely to find perplexing. Surely a person is vulnerable if their drug addiction is such that they would be more liable to harm than someone who did not suffer from those problems? This does not just accord with the everyday meaning of vulnerability but is also plainly what the government intended – that people, who are at more risk of suffering harm when homeless, are given greater priority than those who are not. While there must be a comparator, the comparator should be someone who is able to cope if they were homeless. If the majority of homeless people are now more liable to harm because of drug addiction, then surely this comparator should no longer be the ordinary homeless person?

Surprisingly, the Supreme Court and the House of Lords has never considered the meaning of vulnerability within homeless legislation despite being law for 36 years. With homelessness on the rise, it has surely never been a better time for it to do so and Public Space Protection Orders urgently need to be subjected to additional checks and limitations to ensure that they are used proportionately and do not interfere with the rights of those who use public spaces.

The fact that there are so many people forced to live on the streets is testament to the sad fact we in the UK are in. Banks foreclosing on family homes left many with no option but to set up homes in campers, cars and vans and even caves we reported last month (See link below). Tent cities have sprung up under road bridges and makeshift camps can be found in many wooded areas as families struggle to get back on their feet. We have wrote many times that Homelessness needs to be tackled by the provision of affordable housing, not by making those people forced to live on our streets into criminals. #justsaying