28 December, 2005

Welcome to hotel homeless

It is 8.15pm in London. Jackie Wright, 36, and Karl Brown, also in his 30s, are getting ready for bed. They set their duffel bags down across the road from Scotland Yard, stack cardboard boxes on the concrete floor, pull a duvet over them and huddle under for warmth. Further down Victoria Street, others are crawling into sleeping bags. Some hide their heads in cardboard boxes to block out the street light and traffic noise. By 9.30pm, the 500-metre stretch fronting Carlton Cards to Clarks Shoes is lined with a dozen sleeping bags. Forty others, too hungry to sleep, have gathered at nearby Howick Place, where a charity sandwich van is due to arrive to distribute food. Welcome to Hotel Homeless, a scene that plays out all over London come nightfall. This could be a piece written by Charles Dickens but it is actually a piece from the Singapore times an interviewer wrote in December but this is exactly what happens all across Britain every single night of the week. How do we put an end to homelessness? That's a question that has been asked for years and no matter how we try to improve lives? It always seems that only a few actually do change. The question I am being asked are shouldn't homeless people getting a base be more important than IT skills, learning ect, my answer to this question is if say we have 250 rough sleepers and only forty can be housed. Should we leave them to walk the streets doing nothing or should we help them do something like learning to use a computer or learning to read as write. Should we help them take that first step towards being independent then when they do get a place they can be half way ready to re-enter society.

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