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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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NEWS IN BRIEF 121: July-August 2019

July 01 2019
News in brief written by Jake Cudsi.

Arts festival

The One Festival of Homeless Arts to be held on World Homelessness Day (10 October) will be twice as big this year. In London events kick off at Old Diorama Arts Centre, 201 Drummond Street, NW1 (5-9pm) with Streetwise Opera followed by singers, poets, artwork and food. Meanwhile the first out-of-London event opens on the same day at The Project Café, 134 Renfrew Street (6-10pm) in Glasgow and will run for a month. Organiser David Tovey, famous for his Man on Bench Fairytale opera, says the theme this year is “bringing the outside in”. He will be looking for art submissions (from sound scapes to paintings) from late August/early September.

Homeless Monitor

If it’s tough for a homeless person to get housing, then it’s even tougher when housing associations refuse them social housing because they are a “financial risk”. Homeless charity Crisis has published a wealth of evidence in its annual Homelessness Monitor 2019 of a rift between councils and their local social landlords who refuse to accept tenants based on fears that welfare cuts and the Universal Credit roll out will leave them unable to pay rents. Councils also predicted homelessness figures would rise.

Horticulture corner

The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, wants churches in England to offer gardening projects on their green spaces for homeless people with mental health concerns. Newcome talked up the established therapeutic benefits of gardening, noting: “There are all sorts of benefits... meeting up with others, finding a sense of belonging and purpose."

The Daily Telegraph quoted Newcome, the Church of England’s lead bishop on health issues, saying: “In urban areas there is a real shortage of green space, and churches often have the only green space in a neighbourhood. In rural areas there are real problems of isolation and loneliness.”

Pedal power

Cycling into a sixth year, the annual Carter Jonas pedalthon raised a record £22,000 for youth homelessness charity, LandAid. More than 400 cyclists took part in the pedalthon in June, which saw participants cover 30-, 50- or 75-mile routes across Yorkshire. The Yorkshire Post reported that all money raised would go towards renovating derelict buildings to create safe, affordable accommodation for young people struggling with homelessness.


Gujarati goodwill

Seventeen children from the state of Gujarat on the west coast of India volunteered at a charity providing meals for homeless people in Leicester in June. The children, from Ahmedabad, were in the city thanks to a project run by the charity Manav Sadhna and De Montfort University Leicester (DMU). DMU’s Square Mile India programme sees the university sponsor children to visit the city. The children volunteered in the kitchen for Midlands Langar Seva Society (MLSS) which runs a free meal service on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at Leicester Market.

Bad review

Local authorities in Norfolk and Suffolk are shelling out hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to place homeless people in B&Bs. Stretched thin for funding, councils are not performing due diligence on the accommodation and are setting up homeless people in some of the worst-rated B&Bs in the area. An investigation by the Eastern Daily Press has also found homeless families being forced to share emergency B&Bs with drug users.

Relocation madness

Hackney council has defended its policy of relocating homeless families in accommodation outside London. The council said it “reluctantly” had to continue the relocations because central government policy on local housing allowance didn’t match the rise in local rents. A few weeks before the Hackney Citizen reported on a heavily pregnant homeless woman with two young children facing eviction. She had been given 24 hours by the council to accept a relocation to Staffordshire, or be listed as intentionally homeless, meaning she would soon be evicted.

Dereliction of duty

Oadby and Wigston borough council has come under fire for refusing to help a homeless mother looking to escape domestic violence reports the Leicester Mercury. The council rejected the woman’s application for homelessness despite having previously lived and worked in the borough. An ombudsman investigation into the council’s conduct subsequently took place, recommending the council pay £500 to the homeless woman and train staff to better identify and process homeless applications. The council rejected the recommendations, insisting they had done nothing wrong.

Prank fine

A judge in Spain sentenced a YouTube star to 15 months in prison for violating a homeless man’s moral integrity – when filming a prank on him in 2017. The prank involved YouTuber ReSet giving a homeless man in Barcelona an Oreo biscuit filled with toothpaste. Custodial sentences under two years are suspended in Spain for first-time offenders, however, according to El País, ReSet has been banned from social media for five years and must pay his victim €20,000.

Food salvation

In co-operation with the Salvation Army, food delivery service Deliveroo will be providing free food to two of the organisation’s shelters in north and east London. Deliveroo UK & Ireland managing director Dan Warne told the Evening Standard that the: “Partnership is about doing what we can to support our local community.”

Findland success

A report in the Guardian has again highlighted the impressive results of Finland’s Housing First principle. Finland is the only country in the EU where homelessness is falling, while rough sleeping numbers have plummeted. The Housing First principle is simple: make housing accessible and unconditional to people who need them. Social housing is key, flats and apartment blocks have also been built to accommodate people, with services and support workers available in every building. Since Housing First’s launch in 2008 long-term homelessness in Finland has fallen by more than 35%.