Homelessness in 2013 – Photo Voices

by backpackingbongos

When I am not busy tramping the mountains and moors I spend four days a week working as an Advocate.  A part of this role is providing opportunities for the most marginalised people in the East Midlands to get their voices heard.  I work primarily in the homeless sector.

These are scary times to find yourself homeless and with no one to turn to.  Homeless charities often pick up the pieces.  What many people are probably not aware of is the fact that these charities are often funded by Local Authorities.  Charitable donations alone do not build and run homeless hostels or provide the essential support.  Framework is the largest provider in the East Midlands.

As Local Authority budgets get squeezed they have to choose where they spend their money.  Apart from statutory services, funding is no longer ring fenced.

Nottinghamshire County Council have just released their latest Budget Proposals for consultation.  Hidden deep within a hefty document is their proposal for housing related support services.  This they want to cut by £4.2m and end the Nottinghamshire Welfare Assistance Scheme.  So what does this mean?

– Close all direct access homeless services in the County.  That means that four hostels will close and there will be no quick access homelessness services in Nottinghamshire.  None.  Zero.  No where to go.

– Close all drug and alcohol accommodation services.

– Close all offender accommodation services.

– Stop all homeless prevention floating support.  It is these services that can help prevent people becoming homeless in the first place.

– Reduce funding for Mental Health services.

– Stop the Nottinghamshire Welfare Assistance Scheme for people who find themselves in crisis.

Those affected by these proposals can easily find that they are excluded from consultations.  Especially so in the digital age.  Therefore as an organisation we are out and about running letter writing workshops so that they get the opportunity to write to their councillors.  We also photograph individuals with their personal messages to the decision makers.  These are the voices of those we met yesterday in Worksop.

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This time next year there is a very real possibility of large numbers of the most vulnerable ending up on the streets.  As well as the devastating social implications there will be cost implications as the NHS and criminal justice system pick up the pieces.

If anyone would like to post a comment below I will collate them and post to the Labour controlled Nottinghamshire County Council.

The organisation that I work for is called SEA (Services for Empowerment and Advocacy).  Our groovy website is here.

Also some good reading on this very subject on Patrick Butler’s blog here.

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15 Comments to “Homelessness in 2013 – Photo Voices”

  1. Dear God.

    This is deeply shaming. The mark of a civilised society is one where those who cannot, for whatever reason, look after themselves are cared for by those who can, and who step in and help.
    .
    To remove services so vital to this particular part of our community verges on barbarism.

    As James has already pointed out in his excellent piece, the other community services – police, emergency healthcare, the criminal justice service and emergency social services – will all end up deluged with extra work, with the inevitable busting of budgets so the savings to the council’s budget is illusory.

    These cuts will destroy the lives of those already living on the ragged edge of our society. How do the people making these decisions can sleep at night?

  2. are the reel world looks like i will be joining them soon, spare room tax strikes again,

  3. It seems local councils, whatever political affiliation they are, are adhering to the Tory mantra of ‘take more from the poor and leave the rich alone’. Instead of asking (or making) the wealthier residents to cough up a bit more cash, councils up and down the country are going after the most vulnerable people who are already on the edge of poverty and homelessness. This policy of robbing the poor instead of demanding the rich contribute is going to get local councils exactly nowhere in the long run. People aren’t going to forget the hardships forced upon them when it comes to local elections. The councillors who are supposed to represent all constituents but are pushing ahead with proposals like these, which serve to punish the poor and marginalised for being poor and marginalised, will soon find themselves out in the cold, if they continue to be so shortsighted about what these cuts really mean. I defy any of these councillors to actually live the lives of their poorest constituents for a week; they would soon be crying in sheer frustration and misery, bleating ‘I can’t live like this!’ yet expecting vulnerable people to live like it. Taking more from people who have less has never been a strategy that has ever worked, but these cowardly councils, and these councillors, would rather do that than offend their richest residents who would no doubt raise hell if these proposals were affecting them.

  4. Bloody shameful way to treat people trying to help themselves and just as shameful on the rest of us who will ring our hands at the injustice of it all and carry on as normal.

    I have shared this James it really does need highlighting.

  5. A society can be judged by how they care for those most in need. These cuts say it all to me, let’s kick those at their lowest ebb, blame them for the situation they find themselves in, condemn them and move on.
    Who is my neighbour? It is only a very short step to find yourself in critical need, a run of bad luck, a broken relationship, a bad choice that can find any one of us in need of support of the services that are being torn apart.
    The people of this country step up time after time to help good causes, it’s a shame politicians can’t see the bigger picture too. They need come out of their ivory tower of Westminster,with their subsidised lunches,their subsidised bar, their subsidised second homes, their generous travel expenses etc and spend some time walking the streets and listen to the stories of people just like them whose life journey is very different. Whatever happened to compassion?

  6. We take such a pride in the UK in our willingness to give aid to those in trouble abroad, and rightly so. However, it is vital that we give appropriate support to our own fellow citizens when needed. There is little more fundamental in need than a roof over your head and in these times of tight financial constraints it is ironic that homelessness can be a consequence and in turn, support services are squeezed, if not cut.
    In addition, turning our backs on those who have offended or have drug problems is, quite simply, uncivilised and just the kind of thing we would be quick to criticise in other regimes.
    Suffering with mental health issues as I do I find it quite incredible that support can be cut, with such a high incidence of these problems in our society; as many as one in four of us is likely to be affected.
    In summary, I would respectfully ask that those making these decisions take some time to consider how they would feel if they themselves, or someone close to them, found themselves in need of any of the services to be cut.

  7. Our, admittedly limited, experience of publicly provided mental health care is that too much money is spent on fripperies like conferences rather than actually providing front line support. There seems to be a culture of self congratulation rather than making the most of available resources. It is shocking that the services you mentioned are being axed completely. These are comparatively small amounts of money in the overall budget and give enormous value for money. Surely there are other areas of the budget that can be reduced (like conferences, expenses, hotels, travelling etc) before cutting the lifeline to the vulnerable in society. There needs to be a sea change in attitudes at all levels of government. Their function is to serve the best interests of society, not the other way round. No wonder so many people are disillusioned with the whole political process.

  8. Its unfair to say local Councils are targetting the most vulnerable for their cuts because, with few exceptions, the vast majority of what they do and spend is on the vulnerable. They are often faced with hobsons choice of which particular group of vulnerable people to punish. If not the homeless, should it be the elderly? The disabled? What about children in care?

    Does anyone seriously think that the cuts being proposed are being done through choice? Everyone really should be looking at why £154m is having to be cut out of budgets in the first place. Remember, these are budgets that have already been ravaged by years of cuts… and there are still more to come.

    I believe everyone angry about what is beign proposed should also be signing up to this campaign: https://www.change.org/petitions/david-cameron-we-want-a-fair-deal-for-nottinghamshire-we-call-on-the-prime-minister-to-review-how-the-government-allocates-funding-to-local-government-and-targets-areas-of-higher-deprivation#share

    Lets tackle the cause as well as the symptom!

  9. And in the news today we have another flock of British banks being fined by the EU for fixing the libor rate, millionaire art dealers and TV chefs in court arguing over what they paid the servants, and more millionaires on a trade mission in China making deals to increase their wealth while laying people off back home and sending jobs – my own included – to other countries where labour is cheaper. Meanwhile, the poor get marginalised, homelessness increases, council services are cut back, and the poor get marginalised even more and homelessness increases even more.
    What you have illustrated here is more than just cuts to services, this is indicative of the rot at the heart of society. Our mindset and priorities became warped under Thatcher. Greed, as Boris Johnson pointed out only last week, has become a virtue and a mark of respect. We have become a nation where the winners take all and the losers have been pushed, voiceless, to the shadows of society.
    Keep up the excellent work. I take my hat off to you.
    Alen McFadzean

  10. We need to keep these services going homelessness can happen to anyone YOU may even need to use one of them one day

  11. An indictment of the priorities of those we choose to elect, both locally and nationally. Homeless services are providing a huge ROI in terms of social and economic impact, and the costs of these cuts will come back on everyone many times over. Those who are most at risk, and those who not – both will be haunted by these decisions for a generation. Fair play for Framework!

  12. It’s a shameful situation when the most vulnerable folk in our society are targeted in this way. I agree that councils undoubtedly have a difficult job to decide where to find savings but it clearly cannot be right to suggest decimating these vital services in such a wholesale manner. It’s a shameful act to neglect the homeless in this way. Is it not obvious that this would be false economy. These people cannot be swept under the carpet. Neglecting them now will ultimately be paid for many times over by health & social services, the police and unfortunately in some cases the prison service. I do hope these comments reach the decision makers and appeal to their common sense and humanity.

  13. Thanks for some great comments so far folks 🙂

  14. With a bit of stability and right kind of support even the most vulnerable people can turn their lives around and find ways to contribute to society. We’ve all got dreams and aspirations and strengths. Instead they’re being cut adrift. No doubt the cost of picking up the pieces will outweigh any short-term savings. Shameful, cruel and short-sighted. All the best in campaigning against this.

  15. You know James,it is disgusting, my impression is that those implementing the cuts do not give a damn. Having been there, done that,I say all credit to you. Wish you all the best, your work is important.

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