Thursday, October 17, 2019

Christian Charity

A group of homeless people who bed down in a tube tunnel near parliament have accused the chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, of driving them out of their only home after complaining to security officials about their “ongoing stench”.created by about 20 rough sleepers in the underground entrance used to access parliament from Westminster tube station. She said the tunnel – which she said was being used as a urinal – was “absolutely filthy” and expressed concern that piled-up bedding could pose a security risk. She said while it was “heartbreaking that we have people sleeping by the underground entrance”, action needed to be taken.

And action was indeed taken.

According to a letter from the group, soon after Hudson-Wilkin lodged her complaint they were served with community protection notices which threatened them with fines of £20,000 if they continued to sleep in the tunnel.
“Our belongings were taken and thrown away without warning, sleeping bags and all. We were harassed under the 1824 Vagrancy Act and then without a warning given, a grate was installed expelling us from the best shelter in the area and the closest thing we had to a home. The tunnel now sits warm and empty and unused at night while we sleep outside,” they said.
They told the Guardian that as well as losing their sleeping place they were distressed at the assumption they were the reason behind the “ongoing stench”. They said the smell of urine was not due to them but to people coming out of pubs around parliament late in the evening. They said they tried to prevent the drinkers from urinating in the place they considered to be their home and did their best to keep the area clean and tidy.
“You presumed that we were using our subway as a urinal when in fact we prevented other people from doing so because we had made our home there,” the letter said.
It cited Proverbs 21:13: “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor he too will cry out and not be answered.”
Rough sleeping in the London borough of Westminster increased by 16% between April 2018 and March 2019. During that period, outreach workers recorded 2,512 people sleeping rough, compared with 2,165 the previous year.
A spokesperson for the Labour Homelessness Campaign said: “The rough sleepers in the Westminster tunnels deserve to be treated as human beings. Instead they were stigmatised, criminalised and evicted from what should be public space..."

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