Homeless facing a cold Christmas on the streets of Leicester

by Cristina Olaru

Homeless people claim they feel like foreigners in their own country because the government’s austerity policy means they are starving on Leicester’s streets.

This week two rough sleepers in the city spoken up about the homeless problem faced by the United Kingdom highlighted by the United Nation’s investigation into poverty and human rights reported in the Guardian, which described UK poverty as “not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster”.

Mark Smith, 48, said: “I’ve been here five years now and they still not housing me. They are handing [accommodation] to people who come from outside – but I was born here and I can’t get a place to live. What about us?”

Photo by cristinaolaru

Mr Smith freezing while hoping for some coins to get himself a hot tea

Mr Smith has been surviving on the generosity of the people for four years now, and when asked what he will do next, just made a gesture with his hands towards his head as if holding a pistol, suggesting suicide, saying: “That’s my thought every day and still, I ain’t got the guts to jump not even in front of the train.”

The Guardian reported: ‘The figures, compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), are likely to be a substantial underestimate as no official organisation counts homeless deaths in Britain. Data shows there were at least 449 deaths in a year – more than one per day.”

John, 42 years old, sleeps on the streets of Leicester, although he originates from Chesterfield. He explained why he doesn’t get any help.

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John on his daily corner in Leicester City Centre

“I don’t have an ID, I’ve been to Leicester City Council to ask them for help but nothing has happened.”

Action Homeless’ community engagement assistant James Riviere, a local charity and social enterprise committed to improving the lives of people affected by homelessness said: “People become homeless for a number of reasons, including relationship breakdown, mental health issues, domestic violence, and debt. But a combination of low wages, a lack of affordable housing and welfare reforms mean that more people than ever are finding it difficult to find, or keep a home.”

“Christmas is a particularly difficult time for people in crisis. The people that we work with on a daily basis struggle most at this time of year, often detached from family or friends it can be a very isolating and lonely period. Our emergency Food Stop is seeing increasing demand and we are expecting to meet countless people that can’t put food on the table this winter.

“Our work at our Food Stop, where we have supported 2,000 people in the last year helps show that more people are struggling to get to the end of the month with what they have.”

The charity is appealing for donations of food as they aim to help feed 300 people over the Christmas period.

Visit: http://www.actionhomeless.org.uk for donations or call Tel: 0116 2211 851 for more information.


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