Tag Archives: homelessness

Tim Farron commitment to end homelessness – reason to be proud, but also conscious of a great challenge

A party press release yesterday said:

The Liberal Democrats have committed to ending the scandal of rough sleeping in Britain, as the Homelessness Reduction Bill enters into force today.

Following a campaign visit to the Hundred Houses Society, a charitable housing association in Cambridge, Tim Farron announced a series of measures the party would put in place to help end rough sleeping.

These include introducing a Housing First provider in each local authority, to put long-term homeless people straight into independent homes rather than emergency shelters. Other policies include increasing funding for local councils for homelessness prevention, reinstating housing benefit for under-21s and reversing planned cuts to Local Housing Allowance rates.

This is a good reason to be very proud of our party. Making this commitment is a big deal. Housing is a basic human right, and we are right to base our policy on that.

Shelter advocate an approach based on the American “Housing First” model. I see that Tim Farron embraces that method.

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My time living on the streets of Cheltenham

As I woke up from my third night on the streets, I started to feel it.  Sleep deprivation had kicked in, so the word didn’t come to me immediately and it still hasn’t as I start to write this article at home in the warm.  Feeling unable to move my mouth to speak properly or even bring to mind the right words wasn’t a side effect I’d imagined.

Stretching in a vain attempt to rid my bones of the deepest imaginable chill, I was sure about one thing: I was in a very different position to the other people who had spent that Saturday night in the nooks and crannies of Cheltenham town centre.  As a council cabinet member for housing, I knew I could make changes to help and had already started to ask myself what should be done.  And answering that question is how I had found myself waking up on the streets.

As anyone involved in the public sector will tell you, the starting point of answering any question is usually some form of consultation.  This means anyone who may be affected by a policy change can have their say.  But in the case of rough sleepers or street people you can’t really ask the people whose lives will be most impacted.  When somebody’s main tasks every day are gathering a few pounds for a meal, staying warm and then finding a place to sleep, why would they bother to take part in something like a council consultation?  And if they’re living on the streets or in insecure accommodation it’s pretty unlikely they’d even find out in the first place.

To get over this hurdle I carried out my own hands-on consultation and my experiences over those three nights will stay with me for the rest of my life.  I won’t be able to shake off that uncomfortable feeling – the name of which I still can’t bring to my sleep deprived mind – for some time.  I’ll always remember the feelings of vulnerability and I’ll always remember the bone-creaking cold.

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Farron: Soaring homelessness is an utter disgrace

We know that Tim Farron is passionate about tackling homelessness. It’s the issue that famously brought him into politics as a teenager. In November last year, he took part in a sleep out with Centrepoint. Here is his bleary-eyed wake-up video:

Today, figures revealed a 16% rise in the number of people sleeping on the streets.  It’s absolutely heartbreaking to think that there are over 4,000 people with nowhere else to go. These people need help – right now..

Tim said:

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Changing the mood music of politics: Let’s get angry about poverty and refuse to stand by while papers demonise the poor

I remember the feeling of sadness when I saw these figures from a Scottish Lib Dem freedom of information request. In Christmas 2015, 26,320 adults and 11,200 children were homeless. Those figures are up 8% and 16% respectively in two years. As the party’s housing spokesperson, I wanted to highlight this and, as the photo shows, the story was picked up by the Sun. I said:

It is absolutely heart-breaking to learn that more than 11,000 children were homeless last Christmas. It is intolerable that the number of families without a permanent roof over their head continues to rise.

Across the last three Christmases, 100,000 people were homeless, almost a third of them children.

We judge the strength of a society by how it looks out for its most vulnerable. These figures are a stain on the national conscience.

The Scottish Government have failed the children and families who don’t have stable warm home at Christmas. Many will have been in temporary accommodation but that it hardly a suitable or sustainable way of tackling homeless in the long term. The failure of the SNP to deliver on their previous social housing promises has undoubtedly contributed to this situation.

That is why the Scottish Liberal Democrats will continue to press SNP ministers to get a grip of the housing crisis and increase the number of homes for social rent.

11,200 children would almost fill Scotland’s concert venue, the Hydro. It’s about a fifth of the population of the town where I live. For each of these children, homelessness means insecurity, disruption and uncertainty that limits their life chances. They could be placed anywhere in their local authority area and moved to another part of it at a moment’s notice. Imagine what that feels like to a young child. Being taken away from your familiar surroundings, school and support networks is hard enough once, but what if you have to wait months or even years for a permanent home and are constantly moved. Add to that that you may not be actually accommodated in a house, but in a hotel or hostel, sharing facilities with others. Read this family’s account in the Sun last week, of being made homeless after their father lost his job as a forklift truck driver because of a back injury.

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Tim Farron writes… “Help me to help the fight against homelessness”

This week is the 50th anniversary of the ground-breaking BBC film Cathy Come Home, the gripping and controversial 1966 film about poverty and homelessness.

It tells the story of Cathy and Reg, a couple with three young children who find their life spiralling into poverty when Reg loses his job. Cathy is left homeless and her children are taken away.

The film had a profound impact on me as a teenager. I watched it and decided to join Shelter. Then I realised I could do even more by getting involved in politics.

Although in the last 50 years there have been some changes, …

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Homelessness in 2016 – a fringe event in Brighton and how you can help

Homelessness FringeFollowing Saturday’s successful motion on tackling homelessness, London Liberal Democrats hosted a fringe event on homelessness in 2016. Despite being up against both Tim Farron and Nick Clegg fringes, the room was packed and it was standing room only at the back!
Alice Ashcroft from Crisis kicked off the debate by outline what is happening in Parliament, particularly focusing on the Homelessness Reduction Bill, more details of which are below. Councillor Jayne McCoy then outlined the problems local government faces when dealing with homelessness especially when facing budget cuts from the Government.
Simon Grainge then described the work of Emmaus which has 28 communities across the UK housing over 750 people. Emmaus believes overcoming homelessness means more than a roof over your head. That’s why Emmaus supports people to work their way out of homelessness, providing meaningful work as well a stable home for as long as someone needs it. Emmaus also helps the state and society as for every £1 spent with Emmaus, there is an £11 return on investment, with social, environmental and economic benefits.
Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Also tagged | 2 Comments

We need to be impatient to end the scourge of rough sleeping

Rough sleeper by BlodeuweddThere occasionally comes a time when it is important to state an aspiration. To rise above the detail and say what a particular situation should be, then work out a roadmap to get there. To do so risks criticism for being simplistic and naïve – but so be it.

That is where I find myself with people who are sleeping rough, including in tents.

Posted in Op-eds | 18 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDan Falchikov 28th Apr - 4:26pm
    No Patrick Harvey? He is after all the leader of the fourth biggest party in the Scottish Parliament.
  • User AvatarRuth Bright 28th Apr - 4:17pm
    David Becket - is it not possible for us to natter about celebs/chew gum and deliver FOCUS at the same time? Perhaps we need an...
  • User AvatarTonyJ 28th Apr - 4:16pm
    Well said Callum. This is so important. Our party doesn't have the 'baked-in' resources of the Tories (big business) and Labour (Trade Unions). The electoral...
  • User AvatarTony Rowan-Wicks 28th Apr - 3:57pm
    Just a few other matters: few Liberal Democrat candidates have the media following or reporting their local or our national campaigns to any extent; the...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 28th Apr - 3:41pm
    @Richard You're right. In a way it is good that interest rates have fallen. And yes businesses do run on credit. So no-one is arguing...
  • User AvatarMichael BG 28th Apr - 3:26pm
    @ Sam “I would say address the reason for high house price inflation rather than combat the symptom which is for many many years we...