Grassroots groups are taking matters into their own hands over homelessness

Streets Kitchen homelessness protest
Steve Topple

As the UK’s homelessness crisis continues to grip the country, grassroots groups are taking matters into their own hands (again).

Solidarity, not charity

Streets Kitchen has become well known for its direct action. Earlier in the year, it occupied a disused commercial building to give shelter to over 160 homeless people and rough sleepers during severe weather. It also operates ‘solidarity centres’ and outreach events, offering food, clothing and essential supplies to London’s homeless and rough sleeper community.

But now, it is stepping further afield. The group has organised a ‘Streets Forum’ in Manchester on 10 April; bringing together other homelessness groups to try and tackle the crisis.

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It said in a Facebook post:

It’s not getting any easier or any better out there on our streets, more than ever we need to work together, sharing skills, information & resources in solidarity where we can, so we can provide the best possible service we can for those in need on our streets.

Involved in the forum are:

Homelessness: a government failure

Grassroots organising is needed now more than ever. The figures speak for themselves. The number of rough sleepers rose by 169% between 2010 and 2017. Also, the number of households in temporary accommodation on 30 September 2017 had gone up by 65% since 31 December 2010. Both the number of households and the number of children in temporary accommodation hit their highest levels on 30 September 2017 since 2007.

Currently, the government does not keep records of the number of homeless people and rough sleepers who die on our streets [pdf, p17]. So it is hard to know how many people have died to due the lack of a home; something the UN acknowledges as a basic human right [pdf]. On 3 April, the government’s Homelessness Reduction Act came into force. But as Left Foot Forward noted:

There is no recognition by the Tories that the Act is a sticking plaster, nor that the major causes of homelessness are the government’s own welfare reforms, growing affordability problems, and insecurity in the private rented sector, which has grown from 13% to 20% of total housing in the last decade.

So, it is once again left to grassroots groups to pick up the pieces where politicians have failed; something the likes of Streets Kitchen are having to do repeatedly.

 Get Involved!

– Support Streets Kitchen – attend the Manchester forum at 7pm on 10 April and contact it via Twitter DM if you can help. Also support Refugee Community Kitchen and StreetVetUK.

Featured image via The Canary

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