Homelessness is not a lifestyle choice and the harsh weather and conditions can have a dramatic impact on peoples mental health and wellbeing. The cost of living crisis has contributed to increased numbers of those experiencing homelessness. According to Crisis, homelessness kills people between 45-54 years old and they are three to four times more likely to die than the general population. They are also more likely to be victims of crime.
The removal of tents in Camden this week was disheartening to learn. This isn’t solving ‘the homelessness problem’, it just sweeps it under the carpet. People need support and guidance, not to remove the only dignity they have left. We hear stories of property being removed or stolen on a daily basis. These are the only belongings people have, given to them by charities who provide support on a practical level, such as ours.
"I have been street homeless for 3 decades. It’s the worst period for being homeless in the 30 years I have spent on and off the streets. I was supported by a charity into accommodation. Charities are a massive support where the government fail. They are always trying to clear the tents away and hide homelessness. This is a new tactic to hinder those that are actually trying to help."
Thomas*- Turn a Corner reader
Turn a Corner provides a community space for people experiencing homelessness in London. We provide a place for friendly conversations, as well as, providing books and practical support to help people live more comfortably in their lives. We salvage tents and sleeping bags from music festivals in the summer and provide these to help keep people warm and dry in the winter. Without food and support from charities, people would be exposed to the elements and effectively starve.
Our service has seen an increase in people experiencing homelessness and needing basic items to survive, including winter coats, clothes, underwear, wash items and sleeping bags. Hindering those that are trying to offer the support is against human decency, especially when government help is sorely lacking.
"The hostel they gave us is unsuitable, its safer for us to sleep on the street than in the hostel. People are aggressive there. The electrics are dangerous and its unsanitary. I would rather the sleeping bag the library gave me. I also had my belongings stolen and the wardens don’t listen to my concerns."
Greg*- Turn a Corner reader
When you have no recourse to public funds, and you’re not entitled to stay in homelessness hostels, sleeping in a tent is the last resort. Even when you are eligible for hostels, the waiting lists can be as long as a year. What are people meant to do in the meantime?
We oppose the idea of removing tents and punishing charities that step up to fill a gap in provisions that is so desperately needed. We urge the incoming Cabinet to put in place urgent and adequate measures to address homelessness.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.