The independent London newspaper

The hidden homeless must be brought into the light

15 November, 2018

LIFE on the streets is not always what it seems. Each night, strange and unsettling scenes unfold as homeless people become more desperate and imaginative.

We can now find professional people waking up for a day’s work in a shop doorway. Couples sharing makeshift beds in cold alleyways. Families spending a day in fast-food restaurants, buying a cheap meal and using the facilities to stay clean.

Scores of young people in Camden, hundreds perhaps, do not know where they will be sleeping each night.

If they are lucky they might get to spend the night on a friend’s sofa, or the floor of an overcrowded home. If not, they will be out using the city, keeping moving at night to stay safe, taking buses back and forth between depots. Sofa-surfing – innocent as it sounds – is a gateway to rough-sleeping.

These so-called “hidden homeless” are under the radar. They do not show up in the official Greater London Authority figures – and as a result they are not being provided for in when it comes to the funding pot. Some research suggests two-­thirds of homeless people may be “hidden” not just in sight but from the mind as well.

The New Horizon’s chief executive did not mince his words when he called for a more realistic approach to estimating street figures.

He called for an emergency shelter for young people. Let’s see if Camden can be part of the solution on this one.

Brexit mess

THE good ship UK is steaming out of the EU harbour – but will it turn around in a year or two and return to the mainland?

Both the main parties are split as shown in Camden on Monday when Labour councillors voted against their party’s policy by calling for a second referendum with a Remain option.

This must have infuriated the Corbyn HQ and Corbyn himself who is more of a Brexiter than our local MP, Sir Keir Starmer, who appears to want it both ways, being rather keen on another referendum.

Traditionally left-Labour, Corbyn believes the EU places padlocks on Labour policy of state aid to industry.

However, were the Camden Corbynites right to slink away before the Town Hall vote and thereby, in effect, “abstain”? A real open debate would have been healthier.

But what does all this amount to if our economy continues to wilt under an austerity policy?

When the nation voted for Brexit it largely voted to end free movement of labour – in short against EU immigration. This has unleashed a nauseous wave of bigotry and far right extremism.

Here lies a serious problem facing the country.

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