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New Blog

Please note that the blog is now running through the main website.  To access the blog go to www.simononthestreets.co.uk and it’s on the front page.

According to Bradford Speak Out:

“Four out of ten of single homeless people have squatted at some point, so Government plans to criminalise squatting risk hitting the most vulnerable.

Of course homeowners have to be protected and current laws should be enforced. But plans to criminalise people squatting in derelict buildings would penalise many who have no other option. We think that ministers need to focus on the root causes of homelessness, not its consequences.”

I think it also bolsters the point from last week’s blog about rough sleeper numbers: https://simonfoundation.wordpress.com/2011/09/01/rough-sleeper-numbers/ that the nubers don’t really matter, what’s inportant is how able we are to engage and support people in all areas of life and not simply their housing.  Our work has seen us over the years supporting many people who were sleeping in derelict buildings who have have been far more vulnerable than some people sleeping out in the open air.

Rough Sleeper Numbers

Channel 4 news last night reported on the rough sleeping numbers:  http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid601325122001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAAEabvr4~,Wtd2HT-p_Vh4qBcIZDrvZlvNCU8nxccG&bctid=1137708210001 

 The report stated that official national numbers were 440 in 2010 and up to 1,768 in 2011, this rise was due to a change in the way the data was collected using estimates as well as actual counts.  The report gives some very interesting information not least that of a direct access hostel in Crawley that stated they had turned away 1,900 people over the last 12 months because they were full.

 I’m still not convinced these kind of sensationalised news stories are really doing anything constructive.  Talking about providing housing and getting people off the streets seems a bit like a sticking plaster reaction to something as a society we feel is wrong.  The real challenge for most rough sleepers is far greater and more deeply rooted than somewhere to live and without a real sustained effort to overcome all their challenges and the underlying root causes providing housing is at best a short term fix and at worst a fast track to an eviction and little chance of re-housing further down the line sustainability is a more viable option.

We are currently looking for a Support Worker to join our team working across Huddersfield and Bradford.  If you’d like to know more about the role go to http://www.simononthestreets.co.uk/Vacancies-homeless-support-charity.html

It’s an interesting day for news.  The justice committee have revealed today that probation officers spend just 24% of their time interacting with offenders.  This has been blamed on a “tick box”, “bean counting” culture.  But the question is who sets the targets that create the culture? … A rhetorical question – it’s the civil servants responding to the MPs.  But, it’s not the same MPs as the news reports today are pointing out, the current government are blaming the last lot!  This simply doesn’t stack up, not least because ‘the current lot’ are in control when the other news story of the day was about the new policy for inspections of social workers.  Surely something like this is going to send teams into the offices to ensure all the boxes are ticked and beans are counted…

It’s really tough getting the balance right, but the way to get the best out of people is to put the most you can into them.  One of the reasons we don’t take government funding for our work is to ensure we spend as much time as possible supporting people and keep the paperwork to a minimum.  This is crucial with our service users – click the empathy exercise at the top of the page to get an idea of why people need some really intensive support to change their lives.

Today we are going to the funeral of one of our service users.  In the ten years that I have been involved in this kind of work I have been to far too many of these.  As with any other funeral it is a time to reflect on the good memories we have, which really helps us to forget about the challenges people face and ensure we bring their humanity to the fore.

The guy whose funeral it is today was a fantastic story teller; and he had some great stories.  What I’ll remember about him is the way in which he always told his tales in such hushed tones that you had to lean in to hear him properly, it created fantastic anticipation for what you were about to hear…

The other side to this for us is how the other people we support cope with the death of a friend.  For many it is a double edged sword, not only is there the grief of a lost friend to deal with but also the reminder of how fragile their own life could be.  We aim to use this fragility as a way to power motivation to change, but sometimes it pushes people deeper into their feelings of hopelessness.

That’s why we can never lose hope!

Listening to BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show yesterday left me feeling deflated.

In a debate about the archaic cliché “the deserving and undeserving poor” the overwhelming message coming back from callers and interviewees seems to be that we should stop giving out state benefits to those who are not deemed to be deserving of them, i.e. those who do not actively try to secure work, those who have ‘too many’ children, those with addictions and endemic social problems. 

One particular caller spoke of her belief that the children of these so-called undeserving poor were not at fault for their situation and therefore should not be deprived of the benefits afforded to their parents to care for them.   This was met by a counter argument that this was not the way to support these children…but not followed up with any productive suggestion of how the state should intervene to support them and break the cycle of poverty and benefit dependence. 

What struck me throughout this debate was people’s inability to make the link between the children in question who are often lacking in balanced diet, education and opportunities; the “deserving poor”, and the adults being described as “undeserving”.  These deserving children are the undeserving adults of tomorrow and I can’t help but wonder when and how exactly these callers and politicians will nail down the transition from one to the other?   Taking benefits away from this group of people is not going to miraculously fix society’s ills, but rather exacerbate them.   So long as we live in a society that seeks to deprive those without skills, opportunities and education, there is always going to be a need for the support workers in organisations such as Simon On The Streets.   It will be a fantastic day when there is no need for our service!

Helen, Simon on the Streets