Search

Young Readers’ Edition: The real people sleeping rough on London’s streets

11:00 30 January 2014

Tim is a trained carpenter who is unable to find work, he is currently waiting to be accepted into a London hostel

Tim is a trained carpenter who is unable to find work, he is currently waiting to be accepted into a London hostel

Archant

Lauren Sneade discovers that stereotypes of homeless people can be horribly wrong.

Young journalist Lauren SneadeYoung journalist Lauren Sneade

Homelessness in the UK is an issue many will be aware of, but are we aware of how serious this problem really is?

Tonight, approximately three hundred people will be sleeping rough on the streets of London and, over the last year, 3,500 men and women have spent at least one night without any permanent shelter in the Capital – this is almost half the number of people sleeping rough in the entire country.

Tim Wright is a man in his early thirties, found most nights outside the Barclays branch in Highbury, though you will never find him there during the day for he is aware that his presence might be “off-putting” to the bank’s customers.

Tim is a trained carpenter who is unable to find work; he is currently waiting to be accepted into a London hostel – the only one he is able to apply for, as it is the only one which will allow dogs. Tim could never part with his best friend Freddie.

Frequently he will have to spend more than thirty pounds to take care of Freddie’s vet bills, a sum which he very often cannot afford. Tim has spent most of this winter sleeping in churches where he has been allowed in.

Tim became homeless in 2002 when he was stabbed in the chest by his flatmate’s boyfriend, damaging his coronary arteries. Because of this he was unable to work, so he lost his house and his car. Too embarrassed about his situation to ask any of his friends for help – and with no parents to turn to – he ended up on the streets.

He could not get benefits because he didn’t have a home address and he can’t work on a building site anymore as he doesn’t have a qualification card.

The man who attacked him got 11 years in prison; now he is out but Tim is still on the streets. I asked Tim what kind of people normally give him money and he said that “the people in suits never do, it’s the people who are two wage packets away from where I am that fork out.”

Most years before 2010 saw a decline in the number of people left homeless in London, however the figures have more than doubled in the last four years. It is perhaps no coincidence that this comes at a time of drastic cuts to the housing benefit budget.

According to the housing and homelessness charity Shelter, 80,000 children in the UK had no permanent accommodation to sleep in this Christmas.

This is a serious issue and, while rents in London continue to rise and the welfare budget for housing stays lower than at any time in recent history, it looks unlikely that the situation will change any time soon.

0 comments

Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 13:00
From left: Tulip Siddiq, Cllr Simon Marcus, Dr Rebecca Johnson and Maajid Nawaz. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Parliamentary hopefuls were put to the test by their prospective future constituents during a visit to a Hampstead school.

Yesterday, 12:00
Elizabeth Israel (middle) with guests.

Over 50 supporters of a Jewish charity enjoyed an afternoon of secrets and songs in Golders Green.

Yesterday, 08:00
Lady Zahava Kohn and her daughter Hephzibah Rudofsky. Picture: Polly Hancock

The freezing cold snow around her shoeless feet is Lady Zahava Kohn’s enduring memory of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Saturday, January 24, 2015
Thousands were infected by contaminated NHS blood in the 70s and 80s

An inquiry into what has been described as “the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS” has found many victims being left in poverty and reliant on a compensation scheme described as “the worst form of modern-begging”.

Most read news

It’s easy to lose sight of how beautiful London is when you’re crammed into a commuter train. Let these flying Instagram users take you on a bird’s eye tour of London.

People have pretty good memories when it comes to the outstanding performance of a tub of lard on HIGNFY.

The UN ambassador unveiled IMPACT10X10X10, a new initiative to end gender inequality as part of the HeForShe campaign.

David Cameron and Tony Blair are among those paying tribute.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24
Our trusted business finder