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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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100 homeless at Heathrow?

May 22 2009
Most of the airport‘s residents are there only for a short time, says Broadway CEO The Pavement has learned that newspaper coverage of 'A hundred homeless at Heathrow' was an inaccurate representation of the rough sleepers making use of Britain's largest airport. Last month, one tabloid attempted to put fear into the heart of Middle England. "Over the past three months, it has been discovered that 111 people are sleeping permanently at Heathrow, and the numbers are growing - 20 homeless are believed to be living at Gatwick and more are expected," the Daily Mail claimed. The newspaper's headline had a touch of the Mark Twain about it, and Howard Sinclair, of Broadway which sends outreach workers to the airport, was keen to point out that this was an exaggeration: "Since the project began in March, our workers have spoken with more than 100 people over a three-month period ‚Äö?Ñ?¨ about 10 per week." "We can only speak with people who the police have spoken with first, and some of these people have been seen three or four times." In February 2008, Broadway started working at Heathrow in partnership with the British Airport Authority (BAA), Heathrow Travelcare, an in-house charity for passengers in need, and Hillingdon local authority. They send an outreach worker to the airport each week to identify people who are sleeping 'rough' in Heathrow's 24-hour, warm, clean facilities, which many see as a safer option than sleeping on the streets. BAA operates a zero-tolerance policy on homelessness within their airports, and police have to ensure that no one is on the premises unless they are in transit. Though more than 100 people have spoken to Broadway since February, Mr Sinclair said he and his colleagues have found that most of these are only short-term residents whose demographics reflect that of the typical street population. "We have recorded only 57 people on CHAIN during this period," he added. "We have rehoused six people, but all we can do is reconnect people back to their local authority areas." Airport police will escort anyone found on BAA property between midnight and 5.30am to the perimeter.
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