A Tribute to Lee Haplin



I first became aware Lee while reseaching my own film ‘Homelessness’ and about his death while he was embarking on his own documentary film and his story did make me think twice about my own night on the streets with the homeless in London. However for myself I only spent the the one night where as Lee intended to spend the week which was of course what led to his death on day 3. This is his story.

To highlight the plight of homeless people across the country Lee said he wanted to “immerse myself in that lifestyle as deeply as I can,” by documenting himself sleeping rough for a week, accessing the services that homeless people in the West End of Newcastle use and by interacting with other homeless people as much as possible.

Tragically, three days into the project Lee was found dead in a derelict hostel, aged just 26. Lee made the ultimate sacrifice as a journalist and a human being to raise awareness for a very pertinent issue.

A small group of Lee’s closest friends, some of whom Lee was working on the film with intend to finish Lee’s film as true to the vision he had for it as possible.They would then like to use the film to highlight the very serious problems it will explore and hopefully to raise money to alleviate the problems associated with homelessness and try to prevent more people becoming homeless as a result of the current attack by a government of millionaires on the poorest in our society.

Please do what you can to spread the message via Twitter, Facebook, email and of course, good old fashioned word-of-mouth.

See Lee the night before talk about what he intended to embark to sleep homeless the next day, the bedroom tax, the homeless Charity Crisis and his fearless approach to make the documentary which was in the end the catalyst which would cost him his life. RIP Lee.


Cathy Come or Leave Home



In the 60’s the Documentary Drama “Cathy Come Home” had a massive affect on public perception of the then vile Housing Market and rogue Landlords.

It was mentioned in Parliament in the 1960’s and helped instigate major changes including the start up of several homeless charities including ‘Crisis’ and ‘Shelter’ which are the lifeline for so many of our UK’s most vulnerable people and the sad fact is that it’s shocking we should still need them today in 21st century Britain. Now in 2013 the Conservatives have forced through parliament the ‘Bedroom Tax – this will create many more VICTIMS just like Cathy.

* Who will be affected?

This change affects council tenants, and those who rent from housing associations.

* How much will people lose?

If tenants are deemed to have one spare room, they will lose 14% of their benefit. If they have two or more spare rooms, they will lose 25%.

* How many bedrooms are you allowed?

The new rules allow one bedroom for each adult or couple. Children under the age of 16 are expected to share, if they are the same gender. Those under 10 are expected to share whatever their gender.

Disabled tenants will be allowed a bedroom for full-time carers ONLY. The number of bedrooms in the property will be determined by the landlord’s tenancy agreement, so you cannot claim a bedroom is actually a living room.

* Can I keep a spare bedroom?

NOT without losing benefit. Parents who are separated are not allowed to keep a vacant bedroom for a child who visits. Foster children are not counted as permanent members of a household.

* What about students?

From April, parents will not be penalised if a student is away, as long as he or she sleeps at home for at least two weeks a year. But when universal credit comes in from this autumn, students will need to be at home for at least six months to avoid a benefit cut.

My own film ‘Homelessness’ is also inspired by the Ken Loach film ‘Cathy Come Home’ and today I met up with a homeless person who told me while chatting for about an hour about his love for the arts and discussed the difference between performance an appearing on stage and acting in film. I sat down with him for a while as we continued our conversation and appears on checking him out while I sat there he was genuine and had indeed had credits for both. He was given a few pence and a few pound coins from passers-by who inquisitively looked down towards where we was sitting, me dressed in my suit and him in his dishevelled clothes but where as yesterday when I talked and chatted with a homeless person and I gave my pocket change today I left him with something which I think he liked a little more. On hearing throughout our conversation he loved performing in theatre more but still loved acting in film, i gave him a piece of paper and said ‘Thats my number and to ring me cause i just cast you and now he has a part in my ‘Homelessness’ film.

There are many reasons one can become homeless so don’t judge, listen and you maybe able to give them something more than what money can buy.
Hope your all safe. Take care.

Watch the original film ‘Cathy Come Home’ from 1966 here http://t.co/SOaVajEk.

Bedroom Tax…think its unfair…then let me know your thoughts below.

Thank you for all your support.

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All blogs, social media are from myself Johnny Lynch and the views are my own.

Bedroom tax ‘could make thousands of poor people homeless’



Tens of thousands of the poorest people in Britain risk being made homeless because of the bedroom tax, according to an analysis of councils’ assessments of the welfare cut.

From last month, housing benefit has been reduced to council or housing association tenants who ministers claim have more bedrooms than they need.

Data from 107 local authorities shows 86,000 households have been forced to look for one-bedroom homes, of which only 33,000 have become available in the past year.

The figures mask considerable regional variation. In Essex, 100 social housing tenants in Rochford were deemed to require a one-bedroom property because of the benefit changes but only five had become vacant the previous year. In Gloucester the council said 111 one-bed homes had been available last year, but almost 500 households needed them because of the bedroom tax.

Inverclyde in Scotland said 1,100 households would need to move into one-bedroom homes – of which just 96 had been free to rent last year.

Any tenants “under-occupying” their properties will lose 14% of housing benefit – an average of £9.25, according to the analysis – until they move into a one-bedroom home. The government’s impact assessment last summer warned that 35% of claimants affected “would be quite or very likely to fall into arrears if their housing benefit were to be reduced”.

False Economy, the trade union-backed campaign that used freedom of information requests to get the data, said it had chosen to focus on one-bed properties as ministers had been forced to acknowledge last year that there was a “shortage” of such homes but pressed on regardless with the policy.

A spokesman for False Economy said: “The disparity between the demand for one-bed housing and a whole year’s worth of supply is so severe that there is little hope of plugging the shortfall.” Without new homes being built, “tens of thousands are now facing a crisis”.

A study by the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, warned ministers that families unable to get a one-bedroom social home all moving to the private rented sector could increase benefit claims by £143m a year – despite government claims the policy will save money.

David Orr, chief executive of the federation, said: “For some the only option is to move into homes for private rent, which in many parts of the country are much higher than social rents, so the government won’t make the savings it hopes.

“The bedroom tax is an ill-thought-through and unfair policy that will cause distress for hundreds of thousands of people forced to move from homes and communities in which they have lived for years. It must be scrapped now.”

Homeless charities also called for the policy to be abandoned. Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: “Without enough one-bedroom homes to move into, tens of thousands are powerless to avoid the anxiety, debt and arrears caused by the bedroom tax. Our fear is that many, through no fault of their own, will in the end become homeless as a direct result of government policy. Ministers must accept these facts and rethink the bedroom tax now.”

Labour described the policy as the “worst combination of cruelty and incompetence”. Liam Byrne, the party’s spokesman on welfare, said the bedroom tax was a “mess”. “Thousands of vulnerable households are trapped by this hated tax with no option to move, and if tenants are forced to go homeless or move into the expensive private accommodation the tax payer will be left to pick up the tab.”

The government said those losing out could make up the shortfall by moving “into employment, working more hours, or taking in a lodger”. A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “Not all people affected by the changes to the spare room subsidy will need to move – it is wrong to suggest that all those impacted will have to downsize.”

Police swoop on the homeless taking sleeping bags and food parcels in co-ordinated raids in Redbridge


Police swoop on the homeless taking sleeping bags and food parcels in co-ordinated raids in Redbridge

Am on my way to Derby with an investor for this film before driving to London to meet up with some of the supporters of the project but I just had to post this after Jason Newell someone who as done so much for the marketing of our Homelessness film and who sent me the details of something so shocking which am sad to report but I’ve just had to and like me am sure this will stun you.

There is a school of thought in politics that the best way of stopping people doing something is to make doing it as unpleasant as possible. If smokers have to stand in the rain to have a quick fag, they’re more likely to quit; if signing on is about as pleasant as having a molar pulled out with some pliers, you’re less likely to claim benefits; and so on.

The reason we mention this is because, over in Redbridge, the local police have decided to apply this philosophy to homelessness.

A shocking story in this week’s Ilford Recorder tells of police swooping in on a group of men sleeping rough, and confiscating what few material possessions they had.

“They were just taking the sleeping bags and chucking out everything,” the paper quotes one of the men, Adam Jaskowiak, as saying. “I asked to keep it and the food, but they said no.”

The food parcels, incidentally, had been donated by the public.

The intention seems to have been to move them on, though where to is not exactly clear (some other police force’s patch, we suppose). After all, as Rita Chadha, chief executive of the local Refugee and Migrant Forum, told the paper, “There’s no logic in this. It’s not as though if they take someone’s sleeping bag they will automatically walk into a house.”

For what it’s worth, the local chief inspector John Fish claims the policy was intended to “reduce the negative impact of rough sleepers. This includes the need for us to assist in the removal of temporary structures, tents, and bedding from public spaces and other inappropriate locations.”

Because obviously, these men were just having a laugh being homeless. Now the police have made sure it isn’t fun any more they’ll go off and buy a nice semi, and eat in restaurants like normal people.

You can read the Ilford Recorder’s full story by clicking on the HOTSPOT NEWS image

Time 14:22
Updated with reaction from Leslie Morphy from the Homeless Charity ‘Crisis’ below

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said the number of people sleeping on the streets in London had increased since 2008. “Due to the pressures of the economic downturn and cuts, particularly to housing benefit, rough sleeping in London has risen by 43%. Almost 6,000 people slept on the streets of the capital at some point last year,” she said.

“Though we don’t know all the details of what happened in Ilford, it is hard to see how removing food and sleeping bags from rough sleepers is going to help anyone. What homeless people really need is access to services and support to help them break the cycle of homelessness – something all the more vital at a time of rising homelessness.”

Amy Winehouse Homeless Foundation raises £1.9m



The Amy Winehouse Foundation has raised nearly £1.9 million in a year.

I was first introduced to Amy, when I worked on the prison drama ‘Screwed’ in Scarborough in 2011 written by Ronnie Thompson and Colin Butts when I worked closely with director Reg Traviss for the 5 weeks on the film while we was dating the singer until the time of her tragic death.

The charity – which was set up in September 2011 to support homeless young people and individuals with substance abuse issues following the singer’s untimely death aged 27 in July 2011 – has raised more than £700,000 from Amy’s father Mitch Winehouse’s book about the ‘Rehab’ hitmaker, ‘Amy, My Daughter’.

Sales of Amy’s posthumous album, ‘Lioness: Hidden Treasures’, have also topped £700,000 and a ball held in her name generated £103,000 for the cause.

The late star’s family have been able to use £340,000 to help disadvantaged youngsters, including £20,000 to help people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and £38,000 has gone to homeless charity Centrepoint.

The foundation has also funded scholarships to London’s Sylvia Young Theatre School, a stage school Amy attended until she was 15 years old.
Amy’s old home in Camden Town, north London, is currently housing around 60 young homeless people, who are given a hot meal each day, and a road nearby looks set to be named after her.

Mitch recently called on Beyonce to donate to The Amy Winehouse Foundation after he appeared far from impressed with the singing sensation teaming up with Andre 3000 on a cover of the late star’s hit ‘Back to Black’ for new movie ‘The Great Gatsby’.
Last month, he wrote on Twitter: ”First I have heard about Beyonce and Back to Black. Sounds like some of you don’t like the idea.

”I don’t know this but what if Beyonce gave £100,000 to foundation. Do you know how many kids that would help? Just putting it out there!
”Let me repeat. This is the first I have heard of Beyonce doing Amys song.

3 nights on the streets of London



So those of you that have read this blog from the start will know that I recently spent a night on the streets of London (see the research page for the write up) with the homeless trying to get a view from of what its really like. Well what did I learn?

Well if am honest it occurred to me that I was in fact trying a little to hard to interview and extract information from those homelsss for the purpose of the film rather than actually doing what I had said I was going to do and that was be homeless. So with that in mind I am setting a date in the next few days to the same thing again but need the help of a couple of people. This time I will be on the streets of London for 3 nights with all that i stand up in, with no cash, no phone and just my wits. What am looking for is for 2 people to follow this story and document my journey with cameras that I will provide as would like to use the footage when the film is released.

Let me know if you are interested and to everyone I look forward to telling you more along with the intended dates once I have the people I can trust to do this with me. Thanks Johnny Lynch.

I’ve been invited to see a honest hard hitting drama on Homelessness


The HARD-HITTING view of homelessness is presented in a play at Hull Truck Theatre on Saturday 8th June 2013.

An Unquiet Mind, is described by its Hull author David Pattison as “bloody heartbreaking” and according to reviewer Jerome Whittingham it will “startle and challenge audiences”.

The main character of the play, Topshop, is ex-armed forces and a rough-sleeper. It is estimated that up to 25% of rough sleepers may be ex-service personnel.

Jerome Whittingham photographer, writer, campaigner on homelessness issues tells us about the play – hopefully it will prompt people not only to to see the production, but as Jerome suggests below, into wider social action on the issues raised!

If you would like to come with me then let me know,


‘Soup kitchen must move’, says Waltham Forest Council after judicial review sought



Waltham Forest Council is adamant that a soup kitchen must move after the volunteers behind it issued court papers seeking a judicial review against its eviction.

The Christian Kitchen group has served hot meals to the borough’s homeless and destitute at its Mission Grove car park in Walthamstow every night for the last 20 years.

But the council has ordered the group to leave, saying the soup kitchen attracts anti-social behaviour and crime, a claim volunteers deny.

Today volunteers behind the soup kitchen ordered lawyers to issue court papers seeking a judicial review, claiming the council has not taken into account the effect a move would have on the people it supports, as many would not be able to reach an alternative proposed site in Chingford.

But Clyde Loakes, deputy leader of the council, said the site made its neighbours feel unsafe.

He said: “The council appreciates that the vast majority of the people who use the soup kitchen are law-abiding, but the current site has sadly become a magnet for some people who want to cause trouble and we do not think that it is right that local residents should be made to feel unsafe”

The authority recently rejected Christian Kitchen’s suggestion that it use the town hall as an alternative site, calling it unpracticable, but the group claims there is nowhere else it could go.

But a council spokesman said: “The council understands Christian Kitchen are also considering other non-council owned sites and respects their right to relocate where they feel is best.

“However, the council is consistent in its view that Mission Grove is no longer a viable option.”

Volunteer Paul Dowling said that despite 32 churches providing volunteers to run the kitchen, none of them could house the service.

He said: “Only half a dozen of them have car parks and they’re all in residential areas which just aren’t suitable. We’ll get complaints, whereas Mission Grove is perfect for our needs.”

Theresa Blake, 55, is homeless and has been using the kitchen every night for around the last 10 years.

She said: “I suffer from arthritis in my legs and I can walk only short distances so I’m very concerned.

“If the kitchen was to move to somewhere out of town I just wouldn’t be able to walk there, and I can’t afford the bus fare.

“Some of the people I know who come to the soup kitchen are very old and vulnerable and would really struggle if it moved out of town.”

Petition to end Homelessness by John Gall, Emmaus


Petition to end Homelessness by  John Gall, Emmaus

A message to Lord Freud: Make sure night shelters aren’t forced to close their doors to homeless people

As someone who was homeless for best part of a decade, I know first-hand the devastating impact this can have on people’s physical and mental health. My life fell apart when my wife died. I didn’t know how to cope and started drinking heavily. Eventually I lost my job and before long I found myself living on the streets. For a long time, night shelters were a crucial refuge for me when I had nowhere else to go. I’m still in touch with a night shelter in Chichester which supported me when I needed their help the most.

But night shelters throughout England and Wales may now be threatened with closure by a legal ruling that supported Isle of Anglesey Council’s decision to deny housing benefit to a man who was staying in a night shelter. This was done on the grounds that it could not be considered his ‘home’, as the man did not have the right to leave his possessions there or a guaranteed place every night.
Many night shelters rely on Housing Benefit payments to keep their services running. This income is needed more now than ever before, as many homelessness services are already seeing other sources of funding fall due to local authority spending cuts. Without access to Housing Benefit, many shelters may be forced to close their doors.
I am extremely concerned that other Councils may now stop Housing Benefit payments to emergency shelters, placing night shelters and Nightstop schemes around the country at risk of closure. This would leave many homeless and vulnerable people with nowhere to sleep at night, placing lives in danger.

I now work for Emmaus, a homelessness charity that provides an opportunity for formerly homeless people to access long term housing and get their lives on track again. This worked for me and has completely changed my life. Overcoming homelessness has meant I have been able to rebuild my life and has given me the opportunity to renew my relationship with my son. Without the initial support I received from night shelters and the longer term support from Emmaus, I might still be living on the streets today.

Undermining the existence of emergency homelessness services will have devastating consequences for so many people, who use their services as a last resort. The government must act now to do something about this.

Please sign this petition to urge Lord Freud and the Department for Work and Pensions to take immediate action to ensure that night shelters are not forced to close due to the loss of Housing Benefit.Lord Freud: Make sure night shelters aren’t forced to close their doors to homeless people


New Artworks By The Homeless Exhibited


New Artworks By The Homeless Exhibited

A new and unique initiative to exhibit and celebrate the wonderful artworks created by London’s homeless people, those who are socially vulnerable or those who have experienced homelessness. They are truly remarkable artists, and we want to share their talent and creativity with all you Londoners out there.
Experience it yourself first-hand, by exploring the many small, hard-working & independent Cafes in London who have given up their wall space to exhibit them. With spring here, what better way to enjoy your hot, aromatic cup of espresso than visiting there partner Cafes, and begin your journey of an ever changing landscape of amazing talent, for free.

Go to Cafe Art and see a list of where you can view by clicking the link