By Ryan Maynes, LCEH – Head of Policy
Last Thursday, our London team went on our weekly outreach around King’s Cross and Euston. We saw some of the same faces, but we also some new ones. Some of the stories we heard from people were harrowing, but they were also an insight into the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
As it stands, our campaign can only offer essentials, and many times when we leave people, we do so with a heavy heart. Yet we are doing our utmost, and if we can ease their suffering for even one night, then our actions are worthwhile.
Within a couple of months, our campaign will be nationwide, and we will be in every major city in the UK by the end of the year. While outreach will not get to the root of the problem, we will definitely be making some rough sleepers’ lives more bearable, maybe even saving them.
Outreach helps people, and the more people we have involved nationwide, the greater our campaign will become. Homelessness will again be at the forefront of political thinking.
Outreach is not the solution; it is a plaster, albeit a vital plaster, on a bullet wound. Homelessness is a complex tragedy with many causes. Homelessness represents a total failure of the state to look after its most vulnerable, with Tory cuts destined to wreak further havoc.
Homelessness represents a lack of coordination between public services that allows people to slip through the net. It represents public apathy and a turning of the tide in public opinion, where we are happy enough to ignore people dying on the street or to even scorn them.
Homelessness is in many cases the product mental health issues as well as alcohol and drug problems. Until we properly respect and fund mental health services this country, and reform drug laws so that they are fit for the 21st Century, we will not get close to solving the homelessness crisis.
This issue is so complex that the solutions may seem out of reach.
Yet the solutions will be found. Over the coming months and years, we will continue to work with key figures within the sector, as well as liaising with key Labour figures, to develop policy ideas, with the avowed intention of ending homelessness.
Together, we will find solutions.
We will be sharing all of our ideas on this website, and encouraging input, as well as debate, from across the Labour family. If we come together, we can end homelessness in this country once and for all.
The Labour Party is the greatest force for social justice in the history of our country. We are the party who created the NHS, the minimum wage, and brought peace to Northern Ireland.
Under the last Labour government, rough sleeping came down by two thirds and homelessness declined steeply.
Let the next Labour government be the government that ends homelessness.