One heartbreaking Twitter thread encapsulates the brutality of Tory Britain

A homeless woman

A heartbreaking Twitter thread encapsulates the sheer brutality of austerity Britain under the Conservative government.


James Gleave, a transport adviser from Bedfordshire, was waiting for a train home on 9 July when he saw something worrying:

He approached the woman and asked if she was alright. In a 45-minute conversation, she told Gleave her story:

And she related how she’d tried to look for help:

But her situation was only worsening:

Who can you call?

Gleave desperately tried to find the woman some support but was met with dead ends everywhere:

Eventually, a local vicar agreed to take the woman in for the night:

Brutal assessment

After escorting the woman to the vicar’s home, Gleave reflected on what her experience says about modern Britain:

This is a brutal but accurate assessment. Years of this government’s austerity have eroded the state to the point where the woman in question was offered no support when her family situation unravelled.

And statistics show that her case is not a one-off. Rough sleeping has increased 169% since 2010. Meanwhile, a study found that 80% of homeless people who died in London during 2017 had mental health issues. This should not come as a surprise, given that some people with serious mental health issues are having to wait two years to receive specialist NHS help due to cuts.

Moreover, charities have warned that cuts to refuge funding have put women’s lives at risk. And the government has stripped councils to the point that they’re so desperate to cut costs that they ignore those they are meant to help.

It should never have happened

Gleave was rightly showered with praise for his compassion:

But he should never have had to help the woman in the first place. Britain has the sixth biggest economy in the world. So no one should be forced into the ignominy of sleeping on the streets, let alone someone who is elderly and has suffered horrendous abuse.

The UK was once famed for its welfare state. But austerity has eroded it like a waterfall gushing down a cliff face.

It’s every person for themselves now, with heartbreaking consequences.

Get Involved!

– Support grassroots groups like Streets Kitchen, a food project for and by people affected by homelessness of all descriptions.

– Discuss Britain’s most pressing political issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a progressive political party.

– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.

Featured image via Pedro Ribeiro Simoes/Flickr

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