05 October, 2005

Cutbacks

It had to happen sooner or later but councils such as Westminster are trying new ways of tackling their rough sleepers problem. How do you tackle a problem where cutbacks are being made. In London they have what they call outreach teams which go out every night talking to rough sleepers and help getting them off the streets and in to accommodation. When it first started it was hailed as a great success but over the last few years the emphasis has been on seeing rough sleepers in the same place before offering help because the number of rough sleepers was so high not only in London but all over the UK. Outreach teams are being axed in Westminster and Westminster who are having city guardians replacing the outreach teams. They are set to go out and about giving warnings to rough sleepers. It is feared that the use of asbos will come into force for those that cannot be found shelter. This started in March of this year and local charities who are already overwhelmed with the number of homeless said they haven't seen any difference in the number of rough sleepers attending day centers locally. My feeling are that Westminster are basically cutting off rough sleepers basic provisions and I wouldn't be surprised if the crime in that area rises because if you take away something that is essential to someone there are not many options left to a rough sleepers who is just trying to survive on the streets. Will Westminsters scheme work? I doubt it. Why not ask rough sleepers what is needed? Then work on something that will benefit all. I know you will get a lot of crazy ideas and a lot of complaints but not everyone rough sleeping is unintelligent. They do say if it comes from the horses mouth so to speak.

3 comments:

tonda said...

Hi Jamie,

I am shocked by this post. For a start, what is anti-social about rough sleeping? Anti-social behaviour is meant to cause distress and harrassment to members of the public, and apart from possibly inducing sadness or sympathy in a concerned passer-by, rough sleeping is unlikely to leave people feeling threatened. It seems that the government are willing to get as many rough sleepers into hostels as possible and then criminalise the rest through asbos. Interestingly, it was John Bird back in 2002, who proposed bringing back the Vagrancy Act for rough sleepers (it was reintroduced for beggars a few years back). Giving asbos to rough sleepers is an obvious sign that the government cares little for the well-being of the people in question, and the priority is to clear the streets, so the tourists will think everything is ok in this country. At least the Tories were honest when they brought in the rough sleepers initiative back in the 90s: Michael Portillo commented that now he won't have to tread over homeless people when he leaves the opera!
I guess this is another freedom to strike off the list...

womble said...

And Westminster you'd think would be one of a small number of councils that might be able to find some money to do something more constructive for homeless people. Sometimes I'm just struck with despair about the homelessness situation in this country, an allegedly caring, civilised and RICH country.

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