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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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News in Brief 145: Aug – Sep 2023

August 01 2023

Our bi-monthly round up of what's been happening...

Families on tour

North London’s Enfield council failed to extend the bookings of up to 30 families staying in temporary accommodation in an Enfield Travelodge in late May, leading to many rooms being booked up by concertgoers, while families were hastily moved to new temporary accommodation. The council didn’t recognise the Travelodge’s proximity to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where pop megastar Beyoncé performed in late May and early June. Travelodge rooms can only be booked for a maximum of 28 days, and the council neglected to re-book the rooms in advance, meaning they were snapped up by Beyoncé fans. Families told the Guardian the local authority routinely waits until the final day of their booking before making another one.

My my

© the Pavement
Cafe Art launched its MyWorld charity at an open day for its MyLondon calendar in late June. The event raised funds for a MyMumbai project, similar to the MyLondon project, inviting people experiencing homelessness to go out and take photos of the city for a chance to have the images featured in a calendar. The calendars are sold to the public and profits go back to the photographers. The MyLondon project has earned participants more than £200,000 since 2012. At the open day event, guests were invited to choose from a shortlist of images to include in the new MyLondon calendar.

  • Learn more about the project on the Cafe Art website:

Rough rise

The Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) released rough sleeping data for London during the year 2022-23 in late June. Figures show a 21% increase in the number of people recorded sleeping rough from 2021-22. In total, 10,053 people were recorded sleeping rough in the past year. Responding to the CHAIN figures, Crisis Chief Executive Matt Downie said: “These figures are incredibly tragic and should serve as a wake-up call for the Government. At this rate, there’s frankly no hope that they will hit their target of ending rough sleeping by 2024.” According to CHAIN, 51% of people sleeping rough in London in 2022-23 had mental health needs.

Barking mad

Napoleon Bonaparte once said: “In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.” Fast forward to 2023, and politicians appear to be falling over themselves to emphasise the line’s timeless relevance. One of the latest to prove Napoleon right is Labour’s Darren Rodwell, leader of Barking and Dagenham council. In June, Rodwell threatened to evict families if their children do not inform on people who commit knife crime. Rodwell has clarified that the council would offer support to families initially, before taking a “look at tenancy agreements”. Speaking to LBC, London mayor Sadiq Khan opposed the plan, and warned of its “unintended consequences”.

Prince charm offensive

A new royal charity set up by Prince William aims to eradicate homelessness. Homewards was announced in June, with a princely sum of £3m going towards initial funding for the five-year project. The £3m will be divided between six towns and cities across the UK. Fun facts: Prince William ‘earns’ an estimated £6m per year, according to the Independent, through the surplus profits of the Duchy landed estate, which he inherited after his father’s accession to the throne. The Duchy is one of the largest landed estates in the UK and is valued at more than £1bn. King Charles, meanwhile, has a private fortune estimated at £1.8bn, the Guardian revealed in April.

Champion spirit

© Homeless World Cup

Five football clubs from Scotland’s top division donated towards funding the Ukraine team’s participation in the 2023 Homeless World Cup, held in Sacramento, USA, in July. Aberdeen, Celtic, Hearts, Hibernian and Rangers have come together to cover Ukraine’s travel costs for the 18th edition of the annual tournament. Commending the clubs for their donations, Mel Young, Homeless World Cup President, said, “I’m proud of the five Scottish clubs and the generosity they have shown by coming together to support Ukraine. This demonstrates how impactful football and sport can be in making a difference to the lives of so many.”

Courting controversy

The Court of Appeals ruled in late June that the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful. The judgment follows a four-day hearing in April, after a high court decision last December had initially deemed the scheme lawful. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak immediately outlined the government’s intention to appeal against the latest judgment at the supreme court. A few days prior to the court’s decision, the Home Office said the scheme would cost a staggering £169,000 per person.

Nowhere to go

Asylum seekers from Afghanistan are facing homelessness due to the housing crisis. The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned a housing shortage and long waiting lists could see thousands of people left homeless. The Home Office served 8,000 Afghan asylum seekers notice to leave their temporary bridging hotels by the end of August, according to the LGA. The notice was followed by information on where to find their next accommodation. However, the LGA warns that the short notice and lack of available housing will make it near-impossible for councils to find suitable accommodation for everybody.

New number

A new government-funded hotline has just opened for veterans who are homeless. This free-to-use service, called Op FORTITUDE, is being billed as a “first-of-its-kind hotline” dedicated to helping vulnerable veterans. Op FORTITUDE is part of a two-year £8.5m programme to meet the government’s pledge to end veteran rough sleeping by 2024. Hotline operators will refer callers to a network of support systems, including housing providers, charities and local authorities. At the time the Pavement went to press, housing providers including Alabare, ENTRAINSPACE, Erskine, Healthier Heroes, Launchpad, MySpace Housing, Royal British Legion Industries, Riverside Group, SSAFA (female-specific) and STOLL were accepting referrals from Op FORTITUDE.

  • Veterans experiencing homelessness or facing homelessness can call the new hotline every weekday
    9am – 5pm on 0800 952 0774

Pet problems

A free veterinary service for homeless and vulnerably housed people’s pets in Nottingham have said that visits to the service have doubled in the past three years, owing to the cost of living crisis. Vets in the Community is a mobile drop-in clinic run by veterinary students at the University of Nottingham. Pets receive routine care, including microchipping and vaccinations. Faced with rising costs of living, users of the clinic have told the BBC that without the service, they would not be able to afford care for their pets. One of the regular users of the clinic said that without a permanent address, he has been unable to sign up with a regular vet, so this vet is crucial for the homeless community in his area. In London, there is a similar service called StreetVet, which has teams across multiple cities in the UK. StreetVet teams can often be found in Camden, Hackney and Soho.

Life on a budget

West Lothian’s senior councillor responsible for housing, George Paul, has lamented the lack of funding provided to the council for the Rapid Rehousing Transition Programme (RRTP). The RRTP is a government initiative to find long-term, secure housing for people experiencing homelessness. West Lothian sought £3m in funding when the scheme was introduced in 2019, however the government could only supply £1.8m for the project, now entering its final year. Paul told Edinburgh Live in July that “the RRTP was never going to work because we never had the funding.” However, Paul did note some of the scheme’s successes, including reducing the number of 16-17-year-olds in West Lothian classed as homeless by 11% in the year 2022-23.

Time for action

The mother of a Glasgow man who died of an overdose while staying in temporary accommodation has demanded an inquiry into the hotel. Frankie tragically died of an overdose from street Valium while staying at the Queens Park Hotel in May. His mother, Linda, was set to meet Scotland first minister Humza Yousaf to discuss conditions in homeless hostels and similar temporary accommodation in late July. Linda launched a petition in June to have a full inquiry into the accommodation and wants responsibility for poor-quality accommodation to be shared by hotel owners, Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government. Quoted in the Daily Record, Linda says: “People are making an awful lot of money but that should come with responsibility to treat people like human beings, not just herding them into rooms and leaving them to their own devices.”

Van-tastic cause

Industry groups Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) and The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) have teamed up to raise funds for Glasgow’s Homeless Project Scotland (HPS), as the charity has to replace its van fleet with Low Emission Zone-friendly (LEZ) vehicles. Headlines were made earlier this year when Glasgow City Council issued HPS a parking ticket for its LEZ-unfriendly van. Feeling charitable, the council then allowed a two-month exemption for HPS’s refrigerated van to be used for its soup kitchen on Argyle Street, but the charity’s other two vans have been banned from the city centre. The SHG and NTIA launched a fundraiser in late June, with a target of raising £30,000 for the charity, reports Glasgow Live.

Safe home

Edinburgh-based charity Cyrenians has partnered with the Women in Safe Homes Fund (WSHF) to lease up to 30 homes in the city, helping women and children fleeing domestic abuse. The housing initiative sees WSHF buy properties and then lease them to local housing charities for women leaving abusive relationships. Cyrenians will offer tenants additional support to deal with trauma. Amy Hutton, director of services at Cyrenians, told STV News: “We expect over the lifetime of the fund – the next seven years – to be able to offer accommodation to in the region of 200 women and children.”