Where homeless deaths are concerned we have blood on our hands.

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Back in October 2018 I wrote this article, so I am not surprised one bit that another homeless person has died on our streets. Unless the government and the council act there are going to be more, this isn’t something unforeseen which is happening. We knew this was coming, we know there has been hundreds of homeless deaths on the streets of this country. Sadly there are going to be many, many, more.

Last week a homeless man was found dead on the streets of Corby, his name was John Holland. Unless we want this to become the new norm, it is imperative that the council act to avert any more homeless deaths this winter.

The Dying Homeless campaign recorded a minimum of 449 homeless deaths in the past year, with seven of those deaths being attributed to our county.

Unless the county and the government start taking immediate steps this figure is likely to increase, in the last year alone 43,140 families were accepted as homeless by their local authority. Rough sleeping has risen year on year for the past seven years, with homelessness charities claiming it has risen a whopping 169% since 2010!

The government put forward the Homeless Reduction Act 2018, which came into force in April – yet this clearly falls short, as the problem shows no signs of abating.

Northampton and the 20 or so local authorities in similar financial dire straits are clearly going to have problems with the financial commitments, yet the current approach is costing us millions already.

Wellingborough spent £1m on temporary accommodation last year, while councils in England spent a combined total of £937m.

There are huge sums of money being spent on putting a plaster on the problem, because our approach to helping the homeless is itself problematic.

It is time we went back to the drawing board and moved back to the basics, because unless there is a cultural shift in how we are helping the homeless, then it looks like huge sums of money are going to be wasted and people are going to continue to die.

There needs to be a more holistic approach to helping the homeless, purpose run and built accommodation that provides much more than shelter from the elements. Homeless people have a very complex set of needs which require specialist long term support. Unless we are working to address the underlying causes of homelessness, then no amount of temporary accommodation will solve the problem.

There are also barriers to seeking out help which can prevent the people in need getting what little help that is available. For example if a homeless person has a drug or alcohol problem they could be shut out from getting help, and mental health problems mean a homeless person may not be capable of seeking help at all.

In Northampton the task has fallen largely to the voluntary sector, yet these organisations can only do so much with the limited resources available to them.

We know these people are vulnerable, we know they are at risk, and if the authorities do not act to help them, we know some of them will die. Make no mistake the inaction of our authorities to protect and help the most vulnerable will mean they have blood on their hands.

It is time we start treating homeless people with dignity and respect, not judging them. Nobody should be living on the streets, and we should be doing everything we can to help those vulnerable members of our society who are

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How can we be a civilised society while allowing homelessness to fester?

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Homelessness is all our problem, it is an issue that effects us all. Whether directly through being on the streets ourselves, or indirectly through the society which we call our own.

You would think a problem of this magnitude would require a society wide effort to solve. Yet time and again we have been left wanting, and for those suffering this societal blight, it just isn’t good enough.

Make no mistake homelessness is a dirty stain on our society, we can not call ourselves civilised while we have people struggling for the basic necessities of survival, we cannot call ourselves a civilised society and turn a blind eye to the suffering of those we see on the streets every day.

I wish I could say I was shocked at the news by Crisis which reported that homelessness is set to reach over half a million by 2041, but the writing has been on the wall for a long time. The government has failed, is failing, and will continue to fail when it comes to homelessness, and it can be for only one reason – they simply don’t care enough. Time and again charities and community groups are picking up the slack, frantically trying to put a plaster on a problem that has been festering for too long.

It is extremely hard to get accurate data on homelessness, it wouldn’t be surprising if this number was a rather conservative estimate. Regardless of the exact figures the trajectory is clear – homelessness is going to continue to rise. We can and do need to do more, it is an indictment of the failure of our society.

It is easy to think it could not happen to me, or it is not my problem but eight million people are only a pay day away from being on the street and unless you have a crystal ball that can see the future, you don’t know what is around the corner.

It is clear the government will not act on this issue, not unless we force them. There should be national outrage over this, our governments continue to fail the people in their care yet again.

How many groups of people can the Tories betray, how many people in our society have to be cruel victims of their heartless policies before enough is enough? One person suffering on the streets is too many and one thing is abundantly clear, if we do not take action now, hundreds of thousands of people are going to be suffering in the future.

Kindness doesn’t kill, cuts do!

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A campaign recently launched in Northampton called “Kill with Kindness” (yes that is its real name), has the aim of encouraging people not to be kind to homeless people.

It declares that homeless people are drunks and drug addicts and by giving them money you are therefore feeding their habits and killing them.

It declares that you should instead give your money to charity which has already been butchered in this county, maybe its time the council supported its services properly, so we didn’t have to prop them up!

This campaign is dehumanising, demonising and degrading and feeds into the myth that homeless people are to blame for their situation.

Not all homeless people are drunks, and not all of them are drug addicts and any campaign which starts off with this assumption is very insulting and damaging.

Instead of attacking the powerless, vulnerable and poor, they should run a campaign that tackles the root causes. Why not have a campaign called “help the homeless” or “home the homeless” – why run a campaign that sends the message that homeless are undeserving of kindness?

This campaign takes place within a backdrop of our county council butchering its services, meaning more adults are going to be vulnerable, and ultimately thrown on the scrapheap.

When are they going to tackle the underlying problems and come up with proper solutions to these problems? Homelessness, addiction – they take away our support network and then have the cheek to say we’re less than human (not worthy of kindness).

Social housing programs are few and far between not only in Northampton but the whole country, social enterprises and charities have had their funding cut and removed by local government, meaning less services and support for the homeless.

Homeless people are wait for it – people too. If a homeless person spends a couple of quid on alcohol, then who are we stop them? Would it be better if they drunk a bottle of wine a day?

What are the underlying causes of homelessness addiction? I don’t think the cause of these problems are created by the kindness of strangers, or by homeless people getting a few quid begging.

More than likely the causes of these problems relate to where they find themselves I.e on the streets, mental health related, there are a myriad of reasons why a homeless person may drink but one thing we can be certain of it definitely isn’t kindness that is killing them.

[each week I will pick a local news story and cover it with my own opinion, the news article this blog is in relation to can be found here: http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/local/shoppers-in-northampton-urged-not-to-give-money-to-beggars-in-the-town-centre-1-6600489%5D