Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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News in brief 132: May – Jun 2021

May 01 2021
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Our round-up of what‘s been happening...

Living in the past

In the six months between the start of April and the end of September last year, police in England and Wales used the ancient, draconian Vagrancy Act to make 361 charges leading to court hearings, reports HuffPost UK. The Vagrancy Act was introduced in 1824, and as our older readers may remember, it seemed harsh then. Sections 3 and 4 of the act prohibit “begging” and “lodging in… the open air, or under a tent”. The UK government vowed a review of the law back in 2018, but that’s ancient history. No comment on the progress of the review, nor any changes (or abolishment), have been made. Crisis called the charges “inhumane”. 

Vaccine programme

Dr Anil Mehta is on a mission to vaccinate homeless people in east London against Covid-19. Homeless people were not included in the highest priority category, as the UK stepped up inoculating people at the start of the year. Mehta told the Associated Press he was moved to act, forming a small team of doctors and nurses to offer free jabs at homeless day centres and night shelters. In one week in late February, Mehta and his team provided vaccine jabs to more than 200 homeless people and social care workers. 

Address issues

HSBC is offering a bank account to people without a permanent home address with its No Fixed Address service. It operates in over 100 branches around the UK, and people can access this scheme by using the address of the charity supporting them and being accompanied by a caseworker. Under this system they will not need proof of address or photo ID. Speaking to The i, Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter, said that HSBC’s scheme will mean that “more people can take a key step towards financial independence” crucial to helping rebuild people’s lives.

Well played

Former footballer Lou Macari has been hard at work since the Covid-19 pandemic turned everything on its head last year. In a segment on BBC Radio 5 Live, Macari revealed he had set up ‘glamping pods’ for homeless people in Stoke-on-Trent. Macari has run a homeless shelter in the region for the past four years, but had to make significant alterations to the shelter when the pandemic hit in March 2020. The former Manchester United star invested in ‘glamping’ pods for the 46 residents of the Macari Centre, and set up the wooden pods – designed for luxury camping – in a warehouse. Macari says residents are “showing a great deal of pride in their pod.”

NHS hero

Tom Pemberton was on the streets from the age of 17. With the help of The Prince’s Trust he was able to join the Get Into Hospital Services programme, allowing him to secure a job working for the NHS as a laundry assistant. He’s now 23, helping to mentor other young people enrolled in the programme, and recently spoke at the Movement to Work Youth Summit at the Houses of Parliament. His remarkable achievements were acknowledged as he was given the Prince's Trust Young Achiever of the Year award. Speaking to LancsLive, he said “it is amazing what you can achieve with the right support, if I can do it, anyone can.”