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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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News in brief 139 : August-September 2022

August 01 2022
Accumulate’s Utopia exhibition on opening night, July © the Pavement Accumulate’s Utopia exhibition on opening night, July © the Pavement

Our monthly round-up of what‘s been happening...

The Accumulate exhibition

Congratulations to everyone involved in Accumulate’s latest project, Utopia, A New World for Everyone. The exhibition, being held at One Crown Place, near Moorgate and Liverpool St, London, features architectural models, visual arts and creative writing by young people with lived experience of homelessness. People involved in the project worked with architects from the AHMM firm, as well as creative arts tutors and practitioners, to learn new skills and develop their creativity. The Accumulate group worked on the project from April to June this year, with the Utopia show featuring their work opening in July. Learn more about the Utopia exhibition, and how to get involved with Accumulate projects on its website: accumulate.org.uk


World Cup woes

This year’s FIFA World Cup being held in Qatar this winter has courted controversy and outrage for a number of reasons. Now, Middle East Eye (MEE) has revealed residents of the emirate are being priced out, and even evicted, as accommodation shortage has rocketed rents. Foreign residents in Doha, the capital, are seeing their rent exponentially increase, and even have their tenancy contracts outright cancelled. MEE has received numerous reports of aggressive landlords squeezing tenants out in order to further hike rental prices in the lead up to the World Cup, which kicks off in November.


Brummie baths

Three friends in Birmingham are opening a mobile shower unit for homeless people in the city. Don Russell, Bruce Loudon and Ewen Kinnear teamed up with Londonbased ShowerBox to run the project. The BBC reports the shower will be available for use over the summer, open once a week in the grounds of St Philip’s Cathedral. The trio ran the 10km Great Birmingham Run in early May to raise funds for the project.

  • For more information about ShowerBox, including London opening times, visit their website here: showerbox.org


Amnesty obstacles

Human rights organisation Amnesty International UK launched its 2022 report into homelessness in England at the start of June. The report, titled An Obstacle Course, outlines Amnesty UK’s stance that every person has the right to a safe and stable home. Among the report’s recommendations is a call for the Department of Levelling up, Housing and Communities to recognise and incorporate the right to adequate housing in domestic law, policy and practice. Amnesty is also calling for Local Housing Allowance to be “immediately adjusted” to reflect rising rents.


Play on

A new play about homelessness premiered in Bristol’s The Wardrobe Theatre in June, ahead of a series of shows scheduled for the Edinburgh Fringe festival in August. Suspension Theatre CIC's new production tells a patchwork of stories from the homeless community in Bristol. The play’s script uses real words from real people in the homeless community, sharing stories that are funny, sad, painful and poignant. The play, titled Sugar?, has been produced in partnership with the Bristol homeless charities Billy Chip and 1625 Independent people. Sugar? will be performed at the Greenside venue during the Edinburgh Fringe festival from 8–13 and 15–20 August.


© Jack Wiseall


Café crowdfunder

A social enterprise cafe in east London faces closure as the cost of living crisis bites. The Canvas, located in Tower Hamlets, gives free meals to homeless people and refugees, but has had to launch a crowdfunding effort to raise £100,000 following a drop in donations and sales. The Canvas’s founder, Ruth Rogers, outlined the cafe’s sales problems to the Guardian: “April was 5% down on March and May is looking like 15% down on April. This feels like a direct impact of the cost of living issues people are facing.” The social enterprise enables free meals to be offered to homeless people by asking paying customers to “pay it forward,” adding the cost of a drink, snack or meal to their order “for someone who might not be able to afford their own.”


                     The Canvas cafe, Tower Hamlets. © The Canvas


Scotland

Jubilee jamborie

The Waterloo Bar in Glasgow donated hundreds of pounds to Homeless Project Scotland on the Platinum Jubilee weekend in June, instead of spending the equivalent on decorations for the festivities. According to Glasgow Live, the pub donated £300 to the homeless charity’s soup kitchen operation. Homeless Project Scotland runs a soup kitchen three nights a week close to the pub, serving about 300 people a week. Pub boss Bobby Gibson said the donation was “by no means a political/religious statement… just common sense."


Profit of doom

Private companies and landlords have raked in more than a quarter of a billion pounds from councils in Scotland to provide homeless accommodation over a five year period. An investigation by the Ferret has revealed councils spent almost £80m on privately-run accommodation in 2020/21 alone. Some temporary housing provided by private companies costs the council more than £300 per week, and many properties have been described as “hell holes” by campaigners speaking to the Ferret. So what do homeless people get in return for the princely sum handed over to private firms and landlords? As the Ferret details in its investigation, privately run homeless B&Bs often have no cooking or laundry facilities, with residents kept in cramped rooms and placed under curfew with bans on visitors. The accommodation is not regulated by the Care Inspectorate, and staff are not required to have any social care qualifications. 


Legal advice

People detained in HMP Greenock and Low Moss will have access to tailored legal advice and representation, with a focus on understanding their housing options, in a new project from the Legal Services Agency (LSA). The project will be funded by St Martin-in-theFields Charity for the next three years. As part of the project – titled Disrupting Cycles of Disadvantage: Early Intervention in Homelessness – LSA will work with individuals within a few weeks of their custody into prison and in the six to eight weeks leading up to their release. These sessions will outline the specific legal and support needs the individuals and their families require, according to Scottish Legal News.


2030 vision

The Glasgow Alliance to End Homelessness has appointed Jack Rillie as its new director. The citywide alliance is a collaboration of support providers and people with lived experience of homelessness. They aim to end homelessness in the city by 2030. Rillie will take over in August. Speaking to Herald Scotland, Rillie emphasised the alliance’s commitment to “collaboration over competition, placing people with lived experience and those who use services at the centre of service design.”


Techno massive

Aberdeen Council have announced they will become the first local authority in Scotland to utilise a “technology-led” approach to support homeless people. STV News reports the council have partnered with online fundraising platform Beam in their mission to eradicate homelessness in Aberdeen by 2024. The ambitious plan will initially support 30 homeless people in Aberdeen secure jobs over a 12-month period. Participants of the scheme will be assigned a caseworker from Beam and will be able to fundraise through Beam for the cost of work-related expenses, including childcare, a laptop and travel. Beam will match participants with employers it has connections with. Council co-leader Ian Yuill, said: “Working collaboratively with organisations like this, we can end homelessness in Aberdeen.”




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