New Year catch-up – Medway Greens call for homelessness prevention plan

Finally, following the sad deaths of two homeless people over the Christmas period.  We sent the following letter to the Medway Messenger urging action from both our councillors and MPs to prevent further tragedies. A shortened version was published on the letters page on 6/1/17. Our campaign to prevent street homelessness is ongoing so there will be more from us on this issue over the coming months.

Medway Greens call for homelessness prevention plan

I write to offer my condolences to those who knew the two homeless individuals who died over the Christmas period and also to call for an urgent action plan to prevent similar tragedies.

Though we do not fully know the circumstances that led to these deaths, and whether they could have been prevented, I think we can all agree that it is unacceptable that they happened on a cold pavement instead of in a warm bed. I would urge a full investigation to identify any shortfalls in local services and for them to be corrected urgently. Indeed, as called for in the Medway Messenger comment (30/12) there should be cross-party co-operation on seeking a solution to street homelessness.

However, it has to be said that it is not good enough for our Conservative councillors to simply blame non-action on lack of resources, as Councillor Doe did on BBC South East, when it is their political party that is directly responsible for Local Authority cuts!  The Conservative Party is also directly responsible for cuts in the living standards of the most vulnerable, such as the planned £30 a week cut to disability support (ESA) which our local Tory MPs voted for. [1] We have been told by one of our members (a volunteer who directly supports the homeless in Medway) that there is a family of three people, all with disabilities, living in a car! Surely a further cut in disability support will make this situation more likely. How can we expect vulnerable people to live on less and less and still manage to pay their rents?

Although there are many reasons why individuals end up homeless, we have been told that deterioration in mental health services is a major contributing factor for local homeless people. The Government must act to ensure this service is adequately resourced.

It is the responsibility of our Councillors to formulate a local plan to prevent street homelessness, and the responsibility of our MPs to raise all of these issues in parliament and reverse the trend that is removing supportive lifelines from the most vulnerable. Otherwise we fear there will be more tragic deaths on the streets of the Medway Towns.

Steve Dyke
Co-ordinator
Medway Green Party

[1] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/esa-wrag-disability-benefit-cut-disabled-mps-vote-tories-iain-duncan-smith-a6918556.html

 

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