WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

Hear the homeless, give us a voice too

07 December, 2018

MP Karen Buck addresses the South East Bayswater Residents’ Association annual meeting, as Nickie Aiken and John Zamit look on

• AS a homeless person with mental health problems, bullied out of my long-term social housing home several years ago – which coincided with gentrification – I wish to challenge a few of the hideous statements, stereotypes, and misapprehensions about homelessness and homeless people expressed by Cllr Nickie Aiken at the South East Bayswater Residents’ Association annual meeting, (Homelessness crisis: council urged to act over ‘increase in rough sleeping and begging’, November 30).

Note her words on a rough sleeper who died: that he “had a place to sleep in a hostel… he chose not to use it”. On another who died: that “We had tried everything. He didn’t want to move.” More: “Even when the ‘beast from the east’ was going on… we couldn’t persuade very many people to come inside… because they have entrenched issues…” Her gist being: “It’s them.”

These are a few entrenched issues I have personal experience of in hostels. “They do not have a voice”, as the Westminster City Council leader says. Mine is only one voice. Hot water and central heating (faulty boiler) for months in winter. Front door fob not working for months.

Months of being boiled (or sleep rough) in a heatwave because the (double-glazed) windows barely open a few inches. And, obviously, no matter how many voices speak up, for however long, they do not mean anything to those paid to “help the homeless”. Contempt!

I’m not the only one, either, to have a valid complaint against a member of staff ignored (harassment) and get threatened with eviction (a warning letter). Please hear our voices. The powerful obviously do not.

NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED

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