Homelessness always has a special resonance at Christmas. Yesterday Crisis opened its doors for the 40th year running and will provide 20 different services, including food, accommodation and health checks to over 3,000 people. Crisis’s Leslie Morphy believes the importance of the Xmas service they provide is to help people start the journey out of homelessness: ‘The most important aspect of our Crisis at Christmas work is to help our guests begin to take steps out of homelessness: giving health MOTs, housing and job advice, and encouraging them to come to Crisis Skylight where we can offer year round support.’
Whilst people sleeping rough is the most visible sign of homelessness, countless others do not have a safe or secure home. On Tuesday Shelter revealed that nearly 70,000 children will experience Xmas in temporary accommodation, including hostels, bed and breakfasts and refuges across the country. Shelter’s Kay Boycott says: ‘We cannot underestimate the damage homelessness has on children’s lives. They often miss out on vital schooling because they are shunted from place to place and many become ill by the poor conditions they are forced to live in.’
Over at Pickles Towers, the Government talks the talk about tackling homelessness whilst making things far worse. The homelessness safety net has been reduced, money for affordable housing has been slashed, changes to housing benefit will make many tenants – private and social – much more vulnerable to homelessness, Supporting People work on homelessness has also been slashed. Grant Shapps grabs headlines cynically by announcing a bit of money here and there which doesn’t compensate for what has been taken away. Shapps has the nerve to say that homelessness is lower than in 18 of the last 20 years without acknowledging that it had been going down consistently for many years and has now started going up again. He is an expert at the use and abuse of statistics but even he can’t deny the serious change in direction caused by their policies.
As always Steve Bell sums everything up with his image on the theme of ‘No room at the Inn’ and the ‘Big Society Poor House’.
We wish our readers a very happy holiday and an excellent New Year. We hope you have enjoyed Red Brick’s first full year and found something of interest to read and comment on.