CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Homeless children are sleeping on buses, charity warns

'We had one woman revising for her A-levels while staying on buses at night'

09 November, 2017 — By Tom Foot

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn visits the New Horizons Day Centre in Somers Town

HOMELESS children are forced to sleep on night buses because of the high cost of renting in London, Jeremy Corbyn was told during a visit to a pioneering youth project.

Young people and staff at New Horizons Day Centre in Somers Town told the Labour Party leader about “hidden homelessness” and “sofa surfing” on Thursday. The charity helps dozens of homeless 16 to 21-year-olds with a daily hot lunch and support with finding work and decent housing.

One youth worker told Mr Corbyn: “A lot of our people are staying on buses at night-time. We had one woman revising for her A-levels while staying on buses at night.”

Mr Corbyn said he had heard of this before, adding: “In the days of the bendy bus, you basically didn’t have to pay at night, and on the 29 you would have students and homeless going to Enfield and back at night. Train staff at King’s Cross have told me that when barriers are open late at night, people can get through for free. They tell me they pick up homeless people who go on the train to Edinburgh, and get sent back. What a terrible situation that is.”

Young people told Mr Corbyn that hostels are charging between £900 and £1,000 each month for a single room and they are often passed from pillar-to-post between councils. “Just because you’re on the sofa, it does not mean you are okay,” one of the youngsters, Louise, told him. “It’s difficult, trying to find a job that pays enough, with food and clothes as well.”

Mr Corbyn told the New Journal that if he is elected prime minister, Labour would give councils the power to introduce caps on private rent and said “otherwise, we are essentially exporting the poor out of the London”.

He said Labour would set up a new “pan-London approach” to homelessness that he said “crucially” would bring an end to disputes between boroughs about whose responsibility homeless people were.

“New Horizons is a longstanding place that has given a lot of help to a lot of people over many decades,” he added. “I’ve enjoyed being here this morning. I’ve learned about the problems they have about homelessness, the difficulty of getting into flats and with the private rented sector. “Louise here is paying £900 for shared accommodation rather than sleeping on the streets, but more than you’d pay for a council flat.

On his London rent cap proposals, Mr Corbyn said: “We are looking at localised versions of it, an empowerment of local government to do rent regulation. The principle has to be, if we don’t regulate London it will become completely unaffordable to people on modest incomes – and we will be essentially exporting the poor out of London.”

Corbyn is a table football spinner

THERE were gasps of horror around New Horizons Youth Centre as Arsenal fan Jeremy Corbyn chose the blue team – over the Gunners’ red – at table football.

The Labour leader let in several goals for the blues despite repeatedly using the banned technique of “spinning” – using the palm of the hand to swiftly spin the bar all around, instead of fair-play wrist strokes.

He also revealed he was still “Wenger in” after being quizzed by a young homeless man about his position on the Arsenal manager. “That’s the crucial question of the day,” he joked afterwards.

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