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(50 Posts)
MarthaBeck Sat 02-Feb-19 11:20:22

I was recently in Weston super Mare with my daughter and was shocked when we saw the number of homeless people sleeping on the street. I said to my daughter “I do wish our parliamentarians would get their prioritise right”. Later she sent me this Twitter she had seen. She said “it looks as others have same thoughts as you Mum.”

Twitter reads:
What disgust me is the appalling lack of priority by our MP’s in resolving the despair, homelessness & poverty all across the UK. It is a national disgrace political dogma is punishing the poor with an unacceptable badly flawed Universal Credit & Housing prioritising & poverty.

Your views please on priorities and issues of how we should tackle the way our low earners and the poor are being treated.

Jalima1108 Sat 02-Feb-19 11:30:53

Weston has about 18 or so homeless people and a night shelter has been opened but I think there are only about 10 beds.
It is costing around £30,000 to set up the centre for the winter period. Funding of £17,500 has been allocated by Weston Town Council with other grants and cash coming from various funding bodies.

The reasons for homelessness are complex and, because of substance abuse, not all homeless are allowed to stay in some night shelters.
It is not to do with low earners - these people will not be low earners because they will not have jobs as they do not have an address.

I agree, much needs to be done to tackle this problem but, as I said, it is complex and multi-faceted and needs expertise rather than just money thrown at the problem.

MaizieD Sat 02-Feb-19 11:38:54

It is not to do with low earners

If you read the OP again, Jalima you will see that the tweet quoted says: What disgust me is the appalling lack of priority by our MP’s in resolving the despair, homelessness & poverty all across the UK.

I think that we're being asked to comment on all of these.

But homeless people aren't necessarily living on the street. They may be 'sofa surfing'. They're the invisible homeless.

Anniebach Sat 02-Feb-19 11:41:46

I know of a night shelter in a city where there are empty beds, drugs and alcohol win over a bed and food. How can anything be done about this. Drag them in and chain them to the beds ?

MarthaBeck Sat 02-Feb-19 11:49:03

Agree homelessness is not just sleeping in door ways. 18 in a small community like West is 18 too many. However if we multiply that number by 100’s of other communities across the UK we start to get a greater understanding of the huge problems so many citizens face. As a nation can we allow our MP’s to play down this incredible like “Dickens “ problem they in the main have created ?? Surely there is a morality issue that needs urgent action to resolve?

MarthaBeck Sat 02-Feb-19 11:54:58

Anniebach, then we should be asking why this is happening not turning our back on such a problem.
Apathy can be a curse on any society, please don’t let us fall into that trap. I am sure you could make some very pos contribution to giving priority in resolving.

Urmstongran Sat 02-Feb-19 11:59:22

Drug abuse causing mental health issues doesn’t help the situation though.
How can someone offering shelter force the mindset of a homeless person to change?

Anniebach Sat 02-Feb-19 12:02:04

MarthaBeck I have given an explanation for some homeless people not all. Open more rehab centres ? not all with addictions will choose rehab, this is a fact.

MarthaBeck Sat 02-Feb-19 12:31:26

I have been resding the views of several national charities who have considerable knowledge of the problems facing homelessness. Perhaps, I was wrong to give such heavy emphasis on what shocked me when as a tourist I visited Weston. The effect oh jhomelrsness on families seems to be far greater. The reason for high dtug rates are according to these charities are in thd main due to depression and despair & certainly not recreational drug habits. Mental health is also a huge issue as is the greed of many private landlords according to Housing charities.
Summing up, the problems are indeed very complexed and possibly needs far more positive action by MP’s in seeking the right solutions rather than playing petty blame games.
I don’t have the answers my purpose in airing the subject is that our views are also important in persuading the powers that be to be far more proactive in prioritising key issues rather than seemingly ignoring them.

Anniebach Sat 02-Feb-19 12:40:53

Yes Martha it is very complexed , not a case of one size fits all. Mental illness can cause a person to turn to alchol and drugs, alchol and drugs can damage a mind and cause mental health illness .

paddyann Sat 02-Feb-19 13:05:01

Giving them a bed isn't enough ,they need to get support to get a LIFE back.Social Bite fundraises for the homeless,they're building a village of small units where a homeless person can live with support until they are ready to move on and make a decent life for themselves .The first phase is occupied now . Its a brilliant scheme and should be replicated all over the country .
Looking for the reasons why we shouldn't help ie alcohol and drugs isn't the answer we have to find a solution by finding the reason they turned to alcohol and ddrugs in the first place.For instance a lot are young people previously in care who dont have the skills to look after themselves,some are services veterans who had a structured life and dont know where to start .There is an answer if its looked for .Dont give up on people because they have an addiction...that can be cured .

grannyactivist Sat 02-Feb-19 13:08:24

Jalima it is possible to be homeless and in work - several of my homeless clients have been in that position; some because they lost their housing after getting a job and others because they were able to get a job whilst unemployed by using a contact address.

Please may I stress that while acknowledging that some do, many, many, many homeless people do not fit the stereotype of being a drug/alcohol abuser. For these people, some of whom have mental health issues, being given a place in a hostel where drugs and alcohol are freely available (although officially not allowed) is unsafe and therefore will be refused.

I am working more and more with people who have a learning difficulty (from birth), mental health issues or autism. Recent research found: 12.3% of homeless people had a range of autistic ‘traits’ in line with diagnostic criteria. These are often people who find it extremely difficult to engage with anyone, much less have the nous to find and access the services they need. All homeless people need 'wrap around' support until they find accommodation - and then, most importantly, they need that support to continue until they are reintegrated back into society. It used to be the case that this group of people had social workers and care support, but now they are left to 'get on with it' when they genuinely don't have the resources to manage their lives without help. I am ashamed of what our society has become, but heartened that there are still people who demonstrate they care in a myriad of unsung ways.

One of my homeless clients, with no drug, alcohol or mental health issues, has recently been housed, but has needed ongoing support because of the ineptitude of the benefits system, which found him 'fit for work' in spite of the fact that he can barely walk - and promptly stopped his benefits. (He is a proud man who desperately wants to work.) He is asking for a reconsideration, and then I expect we will have to go to appeal. In the meantime without the help of a charity he would be penniless and back on the street through no fault of his own.

sodapop Sat 02-Feb-19 13:12:11

I agree paddyann it's the longer term support which is needed. There will always be those people who won't accept help but there are many more who will do so. Social Bite sounds interesting.

MamaCaz Sat 02-Feb-19 14:21:14

From a BBC report:

23 Dec 2018 · For every one person sleeping rough, there is another living in a vehicle or tent, figures suggest.

Over the last few months, I have noticed an increasing number of tents around the outskirts of our town. Whether those who do the headcounts are aware of these out-of-town rough sleepers or not, I don't know, but their numbers are clearly growing.

And from Sky News:

A charity says it is "not uncommon" for families with children to live in a car, as rent has risen six times faster than incomes.

It all makes me both sad and very angry too, as a lot of this is the very predictable result of post 2010 benefit changes, policies that were clearly never intended to save taxpayers' money (which they haven't) as claimed, but rather to be seen to crack down on anyone feckless enough to be poor or vulnerable - or the 'shirkers' as they became known.
It was all about appealing to potential voters through misleading soundbites and newspaper headlines, and it seems to have been very successful as large numbers of people appear to have swallowed the bait exactly as intended.

grannyactivist Sat 02-Feb-19 14:27:36

I have followed with great interest the 'Social Bite' model and think that Josh Littlejohn should be addressing parliament to shame them into seeing what is possible. However, the every fact that we have social entrepreneurs doing what local authorities are responsible for is in itself shameful. The possibilities for action are there, as demonstrated by Social Bite, so why are we still in a position of homelessness being described as a crisis? I believe that the lack of preventive work on issues such homelessness, poverty and inequality, low educational attainment, hunger, zero hours and insecure employment, are all evidence that the current system is actually working as intended. Keeping 'the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate'.

These ‘issues’ result from the policies that are made by governments acting primarily in the interests of economic elites. The current levels of homelessness are precisely because we have governments who actually promote massive levels of tax avoidance and evasion - and as we have seen, many MP's themselves profit by so doing.

grannyactivist Sat 02-Feb-19 14:28:40

The very fact. Oh for an 'edit' button.

SueDonim Sat 02-Feb-19 14:31:58

Irrespective of the cause, homelessness isn't going to be solved until more houses are built, especially smaller, low-cost homes. I was truly shocked when I visited Leeds last year, to see the scale of their homelessness/begging.

Finland has taken a novel approach to their homeless problem, which is being trialled in some UK cities.

Ilovecheese Sat 02-Feb-19 14:47:03

Greater Manchester is managing to reduce homelessness. This is being put down to the approach of finding housing for people first, before tackling any mental health or drug issues, thus not refusing someone a bed in a hostel if they are still drinking or using other drugs.

Yes, it is a complicated issue, but I agree with marthabeck that we should not be apathetic or defeatist about the issue, but keep trying different approaches to find something that works.

Ilovecheese Sat 02-Feb-19 14:49:58

Ah, I have just read the link provided by SueDonin, and see that Finland is taking the same approach as Manchester (maybe this is where Andy Burnham) got the ides from) and it seems to be working in Finland.

Jalima1108 Sat 02-Feb-19 21:03:04

If you read the OP again, Jalima you will see that the tweet quoted says: What disgust me is the appalling lack of priority by our MP’s in resolving the despair, homelessness & poverty all across the UK.
perhaps I misread, I thought that the OP was talking about homelessness in W-s-M and the contributory factors.

It has been featured more than once on our local news.

MarthaBeck the population of Weston is approximately 76,000 - not huge but certainly not a small community.
But I agree, too many.

Jalima1108 Sat 02-Feb-19 21:04:45

Jalima it is possible to be homeless and in work - several of my homeless clients have been in that position; some because they lost their housing after getting a job and others because they were able to get a job whilst unemployed by using a contact address

ga I didn't realise that, I have seen people on the tv saying that they cannot get a job because they don't have an address - and they cannot get an address because they can't get a job.
Catch 22.

Jalima1108 Sat 02-Feb-19 21:06:06

Giving them a bed isn't enough ,they need to get support to get a LIFE back
I agree paddyann
It is a multi-faceted problem, not just solved by providing a bed in a shelter, although that is a start.

Jalima1108 Sat 02-Feb-19 21:08:43

I have been to Finland, spent some time there; the rate of income tax is much, much higher than in the UK.

What it comes down to is the fact that we need to pay more tax and those who avoid it need to be made to pay it, in order to provide these services.

MarthaBeck Sun 03-Feb-19 12:31:16

I don’t want to get into nit picking, all I am endeavouring to do is get our politicians to become far more proactive. I would love to see far more MP’s from all sides of the house using PMQ to raise the profile on homelessness, poverty and other humanitarian needs. Instead of so often boasting about less important actions that should be done as a matter of good housekeeping. Far too many MP’s use PMQ as a personal job application rather than for the benefit of the nation.

EllanVannin Sun 03-Feb-19 12:47:48

The root cause of the problems these individuals have would be the first on the agenda of solving half the problems that exist. Treating the cause first is time-consuming but they're all individuals who carry their own personal problems.

Then decide what is best rather than bunging them all in shelters which won't solve anything other than a roof over their heads. Such as ex-servicemen who obviously need sessions for PTSD and should be housed with those other sick/injured servicemen where the right treatment would be regularly meted out.

Rehabilitation centres ( residential ) for those with alcohol and drug problems.

What's so difficult ??