Quite understandably, there has been a lot of anger about the epidemic of homelessness and rough-sleeping in our country. You do not have to go far in any city or town to see it. It shames our country and things have to change.
I find it particularly offensive when I hear about ex service personnel having nowhere to live. What on earth is our country thinking about when people who have served their country and often taken arms end up sleeping in a cardboard box? It isn’t thinking straight.
My advice to everyone who is angry and upset about homelessness and rough-sleeping to do something about it.
One idea would be to write to your member of parliament and, if the problem is specific to your area, your councillors too. Tell them how angry you are and that you will not vote for them if they do not do something about it. Please bear in mind that if your MP is not a Conservative, you should demand assurances that their party will take immediate action to deal with homelessness if they gain power. My local MP, Jack Lopresti, is not the sharpest tool in the box but he can’t ignore everyone if they bombard him with mail. Even if he comes back with his usual waffle, you’ve made him do something.
Another would be to get involved. There are a number of charities who help the homeless and rough sleepers. You can make a financial commitment to help these charities, assist in collections when they are required and volunteer to help. If you see someone on the street, if you can afford it, offer to buy them a coffee or tea and maybe a sandwich.
Until 2010, when a Conservative government in which some Lib Dems were given jobs won power, homelessness and rough-sleeping had virtually been eliminated. I point this out not to say merely how horrible the Tories are – and they are – but homelessness and rough-sleeping is a political choice. It was an inevitable by-product of the austerity David Cameron’s government inflicted on the country. However, I do not believe that simply campaigning for a different government will be enough.
As a lifelong Labour man, I have grave doubts as to whether the current variant of the party, a narrow party of the hard left, led by elderly white men who have the same political ideology that saw Labour condemned to oblivion on the 1980s, can win power and even if they did I doubt they would be competent enough to make the country better. And anyway, the homeless and rough-sleepers cannot wait until 2022 when the next general election is due.
We need to shame our current government into taking action themselves. And we can only do that by putting pressure on them in the ways I have suggested. Maybe someone will arrange a big march somewhere? Do something, anything. It’s one thing being outraged and it’s another to be outraged enough to do something about it. Being angry in itself is not enough.