Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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News in Brief 149: Apr – May 2024

April 01 2024

News in Brief by Sophie Dianne


Five years after its launch, the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) is experiencing issues, jeopardising millions of people’s rights, with people experiencing homelessness particularly vulnerable to the scheme’s failings. Research by the law reform charity Justice shows millions of European Economic Area nationals are at risk of losing their jobs, homes and access to healthcare and benefits because of the problems. One of the main issues is with the EUSS ‘proof of status’ portal online. The portal is failing to recognise people who have secured the right to live and work in the UK, which has led to people missing flights, job opportunities and housing rental options.  Applications to remain are also regularly wrongly refused.

Recovery college

Sadly, the St Mungo’s London Recovery College will close its doors permanently later this year. As is so often the case with these projects and spaces, sheer numbers and statistics will never be enough to capture the life-changing impact they had. But speak to some of the people who attended the Recovery College and you begin to appreciate the profound influence it had. Although it will now be closing its doors, its legacy survives through the many wonderful people who passed through its doors and moved on to exciting new chapters in their lives. Everybody at the Pavement thanks the volunteers and staff that made the college such a success.

An exhibition was launched in March showcasing the photos used for the 2024 MyLondon and MyMumbai calendars. The exhibition, which ran until 31 March, was held at Kahaila café in Shoreditch, east London. MyLondon is the photography project run by Café Art, in which Fujifilm Quicksnap one-time-use film cameras are given to people with lived experience of homelessness. The same concept is used for the MyMumbai project. Once all the cameras have been used, the best photos are selected by an expert panel of judges and used for calendars. Proceeds of the calendars go to the photographers and to help run the projects.  Battersea Power Station, by Maurice Woolger © the Pavement

Kicked when down

Shocking footage emerged in March of a Greater Manchester police officer dragging a homeless man across the ground in a sleeping bag. The officer then proceeds to stamp on the man’s stomach as he lay on the floor. Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has issued an apology for the incident, which took place next to Manchester town hall, but has refused to comment on whether the officer involved will face disciplinary action beyond “refresher training” on how to deal with similar situations. The homeless man is a refugee from Sudan and has asked to remain anonymous. He told the BBC he had to go to hospital after the incident and reported “a fever and in the following hours I had blood in my urine.”

Museum opening

The Museum of Homelessness has announced a show to commemorate the opening of its Manor House, north London site and the 10-year anniversary of operations. How to Survive the Apocalypse is described by the museum as an “immersive experience,” that will “reframe the myths and stereotypes of homelessness and show that the answers to some of our most pressing problems can often be found with the people at the sharp end of society.” The show will run on Fridays and Saturdays from 24 May to 30 November. Alongside How to Survive the Apocalypse, the museum will be offering a wider programme of events during this timeframe. Visitors can expect a variety of talks, workshops and events through the season.

Far from home

The London borough of Greenwich is sending homeless families to live in Manchester, as councillors bemoan a deepening housing crisis in the capital. According to the Manchester Evening News, some councillors have likened the situation to a “Second World War billeting operation,” with homeless families being asked to move more than 200 miles away from the borough for housing. In February the council resolved to increase its temporary accommodation housing stock to 197 units for the upcoming year, an increase of 50 on the previous year. However, in March the council noted there were currently 240 homeless households placed in emergency accommodation hotel rooms due to the lack of available housing.

Cost of a quick fix

Councils in London, many of which are already struggling financially, spent a staggering £90m per month on temporary accommodation for homeless people – an increase of 40% on last year. The figure was taken by London Councils, a cross-party local government association representing the city’s borough councils. Its research shows one in 50 people in the city are homeless and living in temporary accommodation. London Councils warns that if spending continues to increase, more local authorities will be forced to declare effective bankruptcy.

Budget news

In case you missed it, the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, announced the government’s spring budget in March. So what did you miss? Well, not much. If you were hoping for clarity, vision and leadership on the crisis of homelessness, don’t hold your breath. There was no answer to charities’ and organisations’ calls to safeguard homelessness services from cuts. In fact, such was the total ignoring of the topic, Homeless Link chief executive Rick Henderson told the Big Issue the chancellor had laid the ground for the issue to “spiral out of control”.

Not so temporary

Children experiencing homelessness are spending their entire childhoods in temporary accommodation, according to the Observer. Thousands of families have been housed in temporary accommodation for more than a decade, including one homeless household in London that has been there since 2000, a stay of almost a quarter of a century. Freedom of Information requests have unearthed that some households in the London boroughs of Westminster, Ealing, Brent, Camden, Enfield, Barnet, Haringey and Kensington and Chelsea have been in temporary accommodation for longer than two decades. The state of temporary accommodation in England can be so dire that there have been cases of children having to learn how to walk on a bed owing to their living space being so cramped. Children in temporary accommodation have also been found to be missing out on key developmental stages, like crawling, because of this lack of space.

Safe space

Construction has begun on the UK’s first official drug consumption room. The £2.3m facility will be built in Glasgow and is expected to open in September 2024. The pilot is supported by the Scottish Government, but not the UK Government. The space will be open to people looking to safely inject drugs such as heroin, with health professionals supervising the site. People experiencing homelessness and substance abuse problems are invited to use the site, as the Scottish Government seeks to manage the country’s drug death crisis.

First in refusal

As the housing crisis in Glasgow intensifies, the council recorded 1,355 instances of people being refused temporary accommodation last year. A Scottish Government report suggests this is in part due to the council’s commitment to move away from a reliance on B&Bs for temporary accommodation purposes. Over the same time period, Edinburgh refused 125 people temporary accommodation. According to the Glasgow Times, the number of households not offered temporary accommodation in Scotland in the three months to 30 September 2023 was the highest on record, standing at 1,515.

Miles off

Homeless families in Edinburgh are being asked to relocate hundreds of miles from the city for temporary accommodation, as the council cannot provide any local housing. According to Edinburgh Live, a family of six drove 300 miles south of the border to Coventry for temporary accommodation. Responding to the news, Matt Downie, chief executive of the homelessness charity Crisis, said: “These cases are symptomatic of a homelessness system under extraordinary pressure.”

New homes

Some long overdue positive news in Glasgow, where the council has made a compulsory purchase of three flats and transferred them to housing associations that will make them available for homeless people or families. In a statement, Glasgow City Council said it had purchased three flats in Easterhouse, Govanhill and Yorkhill, two of which have sat empty since 2020, while the third has been abandoned since 1999. Councillor Ruairi Kelly, Convener for Neighbourhood Services and Assets at Glasgow City Council, said: “We will continue to use such powers [compulsory purchases] and our partnership with local housing associations to make more homes available in Glasgow."

Funding increase

The City of Edinburgh Council reported in February that its budget for tackling homelessness had more than doubled from £28m to £64.5m. The announcement comes after the council declared a housing emergency in the city. In an effort to ensure the money is used effectively, council officers have held 14 engagement workshops with partners such as Cyrenians, Living Rent and Edinburgh Tenants Federation, designed to identify where resources are most needed. Quoted in the Edinburgh Reporter, the council's Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Convener, Jane Meagher, said: “We’re truly at a point where urgent, united action must be taken to do right by the most vulnerable in our city”.

Cut above

An East Ayrshire charity is launching a mobile hairdressing and barber service for people struggling to make ends meet and people experiencing homelessness. The free service, run by EACHA Cut and Connect SCIO, launched on 4 March. Alongside a luxury haircut, guests are signposted to other available services, such as recovery, housing and benefits. Speaking to the Daily Record, Gayle Watson, Trustee of EACHA Cut and Connect SCIO, said: “Our charitable mission is to provide free hairdressing and barbering services to individuals in need, with a focus on promoting self-esteem, dignity and well-being within our community.”