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Helping rough sleepers is a matter of urgency

21 February, 2019

‘Perhaps giving to street charities rather than to street people, is what I will do in the future’

• I WAS very bothered, as I imagine many of your readers were, by David Kaner’s assertion that those of us who give to rough sleepers are encouraging them to stay on the streets: that we are, in fact, a part of the problem, (We have a choice how we react to people who are sleeping rough, February 14).

And to be told that only a tiny percentage will accept the offer of hostel accommodation is hard to believe and doesn’t tally with the popularity of the crisis centres which operate over the Christmas period. It also makes one wonder what it is about the hostels that make those for whom they are provided want to avoid them.

That many of these outcasts depend on drugs or alcohol, or require mental health support, makes helping them more urgent. And it is perhaps worth mentioning that one of the most highly esteemed old people’s homes in north London allows residents to smoke in their own rooms.

Of course, the only answer to the problem of the homeless is more homes, and if a good fairy would convert the rampant new development along the canal in Camden Town into social housing, and other forms of sheltered living, the problem would soon be solved.

We would no longer see trickles of urine on the high street or wonder where these people go to defecate. (For more on this pressing subject, see the latest posts on my blog:

For now I will ignore Mr Kaner’s appeal and continue giving something to someone – a new kind of road tax – each time I go out to buy food for my husband and myself.

But, made aware by a more savvy friend that there is more merit in Mr Kaner’s argument than appeared to me, perhaps giving to street charities rather than to street people, is what I will do in the future.

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