the Pavement relies on donations and volunteering from individuals and companies...
thePavement is the free magazine for the UK's homeless people
We are committed to publishing objective reportage, tailored to a homeless readership, and to publicising the complete range of services available to homeless people, to reduce hardship amongst our readers and to enable them to guide their future.
We believe that drives to produce homogenous services for homeless people are misguided, and that a range of service types and sizes are the only way to cater successfully for our diverse readership.
We believe that sleeping rough is physically and mentally harmful; however, we do not preach to those who chosen to, nor do we believe that all options to get off the streets are necessarily beneficial to long-term health and happiness.
The Rights Guide for Rough Sleepers outlines your rights around arrest, stop and search, answering police questions, move-ons, no-drinking zones, sleeping rough, taking a pee in public and highway obstruction. It was put together by The Pavement, Housing Justice, Liberty and Zacchaeus 2000.
If your benefits have been sanctioned (cut off or reduced) and you feel this is unfair, you can appeal. Print this letter and hand it in at the office where you sign on. If you feel you need more advice about sanctions, contact Zacchaeus 2000 or your nearest Citizen’s Advice Bureau. And let us know at The Pavement!
If you are a journalist with some free time to research and write stories for the magazine, please contact us . For other volunteering opportunities, please approach organisations listed on our Services pages or your local volunteer centre
The web site is coded by hand at Flat Earth Industries
Ollie the twitterrific bird appears courtesy of www.twitterrific.com
Attention Scottish readers!! Would you like to help a former rough sleeper (and earn £50) by recording stories of your life for a touring art project. Check out Bekki's website and the flyer, and contact her if you're interested.
Download PDF (1.11MB)
Our Glasgow Word On The Street project went so well that we are now running it in London. Véronique Mistiaen, lecturer and human rights journalist, led the second session, 'How to tell your own story'. you can read more about the project on her blog, The Right Human. Check out the trainees' blog to follow their progress from newbie to news hound.
Will you use your admin ninja skills to help a unique small charity working to support homeless people?
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Do you want to use your fundraising skills to support a unique small charity working to support homeless people?
Download PDF (146KB)
Will you donate your a journalism or photography skills to help the homeless people we work to support?
Download PDF (146KB)
Our Glasgow-based Word on the Street team of reporters and photographers – along with London guest writers, who also have experience of the homelessness – has been working hard on a special edition that tells it how it is: benefit sanctions, a cartoon about hostel life and how football can change the world, for starters. The WOTS team is: Iain Alan, Brenda Brown, Brian Dobbie, Jason Kelly, Peter Kelly, Jim Little, Caroline McCue, Alex McKay, Patrick O’Hare and Roddy Woods. Thanks, team!
Wow. The Pavement’s Homeless City Guide, which appears in every issue of the magazine, has made it into New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
Rough sleepers risk a £1,000 fine if they bed down in parts of Hackney, since the east London borough became the first use new legal powers against homeless people.
Police and council workers can give rough sleepers a £100 fixed penalty notice or to take them to court where fines could reach £1,000 since the council introduced a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) at the end of April.
The council said it had not set out to criminalise homelessness but charities have warned that the measures could force those in need away from vital services, and that arresting or fining rough sleepers is likely to be counter-productive.
The government introduced PSPOs in 2014 to give councils more powers to tackle antisocial behaviour. So far councils have primarily used them to target street drinking.
Hackney council said its PSPO was designed to tackle antisocial behaviour linked to street drinking and persistent rough sleeping. The order allows police or council officers to ask people to stop doing a range of things, including begging, having a dog off a lead causing a nuisance, and “sleeping rough in doorways or other public places”.
The council’s announcement of the new order stated that “enforcement action is always the last option”.
It added: “Officers will put rough sleepers in contact with organisations that make sure they get the medical attention that they need, and help with housing.”
The council’s deputy mayor, Sophie Linden, said: “The welfare of every vulnerable person is of highest importance to us.”
She added, however: “We are trying to tackle persistent antisocial behaviour that is concentrated in specific areas and having an adverse effect on the lives of residents and visitors to the area.”
Linden said the PSPO followed months of work by the police and council to deal with persistent rough sleepers and ongoing antisocial behaviour in parts of the borough including St John’s Churchyard, which is covered by the order.
“Everyone should be able to enjoy and make use of the many public spaces that we have in our borough. Persistent street drinking and rough sleeping has been part of the antisocial behaviour in this area. People are urinating in the street, defecating in the churchyard, fighting and being abusive to members of public and spitting on passers-by.”
However the order, which covers Hackney Downs, London Fields, Broadway Market, Mare Street and Regent’s Canal, was criticised by those working with homeless people.
Connor Johnston, a barrister specialising in homelessness and a Hackney resident, said: “The purpose of these orders is to clamp down on antisocial or nuisance behaviour that impacts on the quality of life of those in the locality. There is nothing inherently antisocial about a person being forced to sleep rough and we should not be criminalising it.”
“The effect of it is simply going to be to shunt homeless people to another borough. This won’t solve anything beyond making our streets a bit ‘shinier’ and will almost certainly just make it harder for those sleeping rough to access the support services they rely on.”
Homelessness charity Crisis’s director of policy and external affairs, Matt Downie, said: “While it’s right that the police have the power to tackle genuine criminals, covering a complex issue with a wide-ranging PSPO could lead to people in dire need of support facing a counterproductive arrest or fine.
“Rough sleepers deserve better than to be treated as a nuisance – they may have suffered a relationship breakdown, a bereavement or domestic abuse. Instead, people need long-term, dedicated support to move away from the streets for good.”
Organisations also oppose the new laws in principle including the Manifesto Club, which campaigns “against the hyper-regulation of everyday life” campaigns against the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, which introduced the orders.
Its director Josie Appleton describes PSPOs as “blank cheque powers”, and said: “It is astonishing that the council could bring through an order on this scale without a public consultation. This is unprecedented – every other major PSPO has had a public consultation.”
Meanwhile, Oxford city council has stepped back from including rough sleepers in a PSPO in the city centre, saying a consultation had indicated it was not likely to be the most effective way of tackling the problem. It said the proposed PSPO would not have included all rough sleepers, but a small number of people who continued to sleep rough in the city centre despite having accommodation.
Local groups had lobbied the city council to drop the plans, which they said could force homeless people away from the services set up to help them. A petition against the move attracted more than 72,000 signatures.
The first Conservative-majority government since 1992 have announced their legislative agenda for the upcoming year. A new Housing Bill was among the 25 proposed and follows through on some of the most controversial election pledges.
Margaret Thatcher’s right-to-buy scheme will be extended to 1.3 million housing association tenants in England. Tenants that have lived in their properties for three years or more will be offered discounts worth up to £102,700 in London and £77,000 in the rest of England. The process would, the party promises, be used to build replacement affordable homes on a one-for-one basis.
The housing consensus view is that the extended right-to-buy will further weaken an already shrinking social housing sector. Henry Gregg, Assistant Director of Campaigns & Communications at the National Housing Federation, said: “This policy is not a genuine solution to our housing crisis. An extension to the right-to-buy would mean that housing associations are working to keep pace with replacements rather than building homes for the millions stuck on waiting lists.”
Since the Housing Act in 1980, social housing has dwindled from about a third of all homes to barely a fifth, and experience suggests the ‘one-for-one’ promise is far from certain. The housing sector is seeking to fight the proposals with concerns that a generation of young people will consigned to living in overpriced new homes that won’t be at ‘social’ but at ‘affordable’ rents (80 per cent of market rates), and poor quality rented housing.
Another announcement was the abolition of housing benefit for 18–21 year-olds on Jobseekers Allowance. Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, called it a “disaster for thousands of young people”, adding: “For many young people, living with their parents simply isn’t an option. Housing benefit can be all that stands between them and homelessness. It can mean keeping a roof over their heads whilst they look for work or get their lives back on track. Far from helping them, taking this support away could make it even harder for them to find a job.”
Young people without a stable home will find it much more difficult to search and apply for jobs: at best they will be constantly changing location; at worst they will be sleeping rough. Neither situation is conducive to motivation and focus. The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has said the cut will affect about 20,000 young adults and will save only around £0.1 billion.
A landmark legal decision which should help people who are street homeless access emergency accommodation has been widely welcomed by campaigners as an important step towards justice for homeless people.
The ruling, made yesterday by the Supreme Court, was based on a legal challenge brought by three homeless people who were turned away from Southward and Solihull councils after seeking help.
It aimed to redefine the way that councils judge someone to be ‘vulnerable’, a definition that means they qualify for housing.
Previously, councils made the decision about someone’s vulnerability by comparing them with “an ordinary street homeless person”, a comparison known as the ‘Pereira test’. In practice, this often meant arguments that the person was vulnerable as a result of depression, suicidal thoughts or self-harm were dismissed as they had this in common with most street homeless people.
However, yesterday’s judgment means that they must in future compare them with an ‘ordinary person if made homeless’ rather than someone who is already homeless, which means such arguments will be made legally valid again.
The judge also emphasised the need for councils to treat every person applying for assistance with housing as an individual, taking on board their own circumstances.
The change has been described as “very significant” by legal experts working in homelessness, such as Giles Peaker.
Val Stevenson, chair of trustees of the Pavement, said: “This is seriously good news. Councils will have to house more single vulnerable homeless people, and without them having to be ‘even more vulnerable than the vulnerable’.”
Crisis and Shelter made interventions in the legal challenge, with St Mungo's Broadway and Homeless Link providing supporting evidence.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “This ruling represents a major step in tackling the injustice faced by so many single homeless people in England today.
“The reality is that anyone sleeping on the streets is vulnerable, and we applaud today’s ruling for making it easier for people to get help. The Court is also clear that while councils are often under huge financial strain, this must not be used as an excuse for avoiding their legal duties.”
However, he and others pointed to the lack of available housing as an urgent problem that continues to lead to people who desperately need help being turned away.
Howard Sinclair, St Mungo's Broadway chief executive, said: "We welcome this important ruling as we know that the previous test had become a very high hurdle for single homeless people to overcome and led to extremely vulnerable people being at risk of rough sleeping.
"However, the concerning issue is the problem of what housing is available for people. It means that already pressurised housing options are going to be stretched even further for those who are shockingly vulnerable, and often in serious physical and mental ill health."
Tony, 48, became homeless after losing his job. Unable to find work or a place to live, he slept wherever he could – first under a bridge and later in the woods. He went to his local council, but despite having a heart condition, he didn’t get the help he needed.
“I was at a real low ebb. I was sleeping in the forest because I didn’t want to get kicked or punched. It was a really bad winter. I was weak and worried.
“Going to the council felt like my last resort – I’d tried everything else. When I went in, it felt claustrophobic. It felt like quite an angry place. I approached the lady at the desk and said: ‘I’m homeless and I need help with housing’. And she said: ‘You’re not going to get it’. That was before I’d even seen an advisor. She was very clinical – just bouncing me off straight away without giving me a chance.
“Eventually she made me an appointment with the homeless team, who basically told me the same thing: that they couldn’t help. I had unstable angina, but it didn’t make any difference. All she gave me was a list of shelters. But I already knew where the shelters were. Other than that, she had no advice for me.
“I felt like a second-class citizen. It was a horrible feeling. When I left the council I went back to the forest. I found some cardboard, put that down, my sleeping bag, and I was just back there. I remember being very lonely. And I had this feeling that the government didn’t care at all.”