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Singer Ellie speaks out

November 01 2015
Ellie Goulding is better known for her chart hits. Ellie Goulding is better known for her chart hits.
The pop singer has spoken out in defence of homeless people - and she's not the only one...

Pop singer Ellie Goulding has spoken out in defence of homeless people and asked to meet Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn about the issues, accusing local government of having “lost touch with real people”.

This is in response to Hackney Council’s and Kensington & Chelsea Council’s policies instructing people not to give food or money to homeless people on the grounds that it will fund illicit activities, and comes under the terms of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO).

She has backed homelessness charities and spoken out against the unfair treatment of rough sleepers. One campaign backed by Goulding resulted in Hackney Council amending an order that threatened ‘offenders’ with court action and fines of up to £1,000.

She’s tweeted hard-hitting messages to 4.8 million followers including “Homelessness isn’t a lifestyle choice. It is a last resort and has risen 79 per cent in London since 2010. Because people aren’t caring enough” in June.

This was part of her support messages urging people to sign an online petition to “stop criminalising Hackney’s rough sleepers”. 80,000 people signed the petition urging Hackney Councillors to remove rough sleeping from a list of “antisocial activities” that could incur a fine. The PSPO was allegedly drawn up to deal with “the anti-social behaviour linked to street drinking, persistent rough sleeping and begging in ‘hot spots’” – further criminalising rough sleepers.

During the most recent general election, Goulding revealed herself to be a Labour supporter.

At another event, the Special K/Chime For Change event which launched their Bring Colour Back campaign, Goulding said, “We see the spikes that have been put up, treating homeless people like they’re pigeons – it’s disgraceful... There are 7,000 people on the streets every year in London and for a city that’s thriving, that’s shameful.”


Other famous people who've spoken out

Actor Peter Capaldi ( currently Dr Who), musician Jarvis Cocker, author Ian Rankin and actor Brian Cox (X-Men) are all members of a private club called The House of St Barnabas that helps homeless people by giving them work experience.

Rankin supported the Edinburgh Festival StreetSmart campaign in 2011 urging restaurant diners to donate £1 to homeless people.

Cox also supported a Dundee arts graduate makin a series of films about homelessness in 2011. He has said, “The way we penalise people and make it tough to get out of the social situation they’re in is brutal and very unfair.”


...and the former homeless musician's success

Benjamin Clementine is a former rough sleeper who has found enormous recognition in the music industry.

His debut album At Least for Now has recently been shortlisted for the 2015 Mercury Prize for album of the year. The list is famous for choosing artists whose music style has typically defied categorisation.

The youngest of five children, Benjamin was born in London and left school at 16 after failing to pass any GCSEs.

After that he found himself homeless and slept on friends’ sofas in Camden, north London, and the Place de Clichy metro station in Paris.

He also lived in a rat-infested hostel in Paris, while he busked in bars and on the streets to survive.

It was busking in the metro where he got his big break and was talent spotted by an agent.

His TV debut was on Later with Jools Holland, where he played barefoot at a grand piano. His first album At Least for Now was released in March 2015. His passionate singing style has been favourably compared to legendary French singer Edith Piaf, and he’s also been likened to American singer-songwriter Nina Simone.

Twelve solo artists and bands have been shortlisted for the award, including Florence + the Machine, Róisín Murphy, and former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes.