12 June, 2006

An appalling site

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Every so often you come across a site that does really disturb you. This was one that I just could not for the life of me understand. It was at the back of the Westminster town hall near Victoria in London. What really gets to me is the fact that the houses of parliament are just a couple of hundred yards away and the town hall is in touching distance and Westminster council pride their selves on being a caring borough. When you get scenes like this you begin to wonder. How can this happen in this country which is supposed to be wealthy and caring. This photo was taken at six o'clock on Sunday evening and he was not the only one sleeping there. The other people refused to let me photograph them. When I asked why he slept here he said that by sleeping here he was not disturbed or assaulted by anyone and he could get some sleep away from the drunks and junkies and bloody foreigners. (his own words) The smell of bins full of rotting food from the shops was so over powering and it left me wondering how on earth he could sleep there because there where pigeons and for the few minutes I was there I saw a couple of rats. After being homeless myself I could understand the need to be away from others but to sleep there would not have entered my head. So this leads me to asking the question of why there now where no outreach workers looking for the most vulnerable homeless people in certain areas of London because it was for this specific reason that outreach workers would go out and find the people that needed urgent help. There are more people living rough that need help and with nobody looking for them how can they be helped. Most homeless charities now concentrate on learning and skills because this to them seems to be the way forward as the decrease in homeless people over the last few years is quite visible but are we forgetting that there are homeless people who need a lot more than that. I come across homeless people all the time when I walk the streets at night trying to find reasons for them being there in the first place but as I notice the increase in homelessness I also notice how hidden it's becoming as I wander the back streets of London. Places you once thought you wouldn't expect to find people I am finding them. Not just single cases but in twos or threes. What is the answer to this problem? It's a question I will be pondering all this week as I go out to find out more.

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