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Published on November 27th, 2017 | by voxx


Let’s Talk About Homelessness

Homelessness and associated poverty have always been blight on human society since the dawn of civilization. Whether I’ve been on the move here in the UK or across the globe the stark reality of human suffering from inadequate social housing and poverty is a constant reminder of the importance of reform of social policy and the future prospects of community. You would think that in a first world country such as the United Kingdom that homelessness would be a thing of the past, however I still see street beggars, rough sleepers and individuals in accommodation crisis.

Recently, CPO had an exciting opportunity to team up with local television channel Estuary TV to produce a television show called Voxx Pops, which deals with key issues that surround people in and around the Northern Lincolnshire area. During filming I spoke to volunteer focussed project coordinator Tina Andrew, who coordinates Habour Place and is dedicated to rehousing individuals afflicted by homeless at the Freeman Street organisation. This was a great opportunity to get a better understanding of the current situation surrounding rough sleepers, street beggars and associated poverty in the North East Lincolnshire area. During the interview I was struck by how graceful and dedicated homeless outreach worker Tina was. She began telling the story of Habour place and gave us insight to the impressive outreach figures as current as March 2017. The Street Outreach team at Harbour Place has worked with 88 different clients who have presented as rough sleeping as well as picking up 43 new outreach clients. The team has successfully accommodated 60 new clients, dealt with 401 housing issues as well as 199 substance abuse related harm reduction and relapse prevention advice. I asked a multitude of questions both on and off camera whilst speaking with Tina.  She not only revealed the amazing work Habour place do but also gave us access to service users allowing us to interview on camera individuals blighted by housing standards and accommodation issues, leading them to resort to the provisions of such welfare.

We discussed Home options as one service available which offers support with debt, disability and mental health. In my opinion there is an upper limit of involvement to which an individual can be supported before he or she must in part take ownership of their afflicted problems; however I also feel everything is wholly dependent upon another and community and society play a in part role in the manufacturing of such an afflicted individual. Tina highlighted that the biggest issue wasn’t in rehousing but in maintaining accommodation once rehoused. She suggested that sustainability or lack of it could be due to inequalities and underlying medical problems which may have led to problems with financing. She informed me that the organization has dealt with 81 alcohol issues providing harm reduction and relapse prevention advice to individuals in crisis. I also brought up Humberside Police’s anti-begging campaign launched in April 2014, educating general citizens on problems that stem from funding beggars. Certain individuals are notorious in the area for begging especially on the St. Peter’s avenue in Cleethorpes, with certain individuals making local headlines regarding this issue.

The homeless experience on the part of the passerby bystander may be a short one, yet such experience is compelling and reflective of society and certainly an issue that local residents seem passionate about; one such person recently in the media attracted my attention at the level of interest from constituents on the matter. I read through the many comments on the subsection of Facebook to gain a feeling of what the general attitude was towards a local man having been prosecuted for begging in the recent months; most were empathetic but the general consensus was that in 2017 individuals should not have to resort to such an outlet and that the likelihood of the individual also having a drug addiction coupled with housing issues is relatively high. In my opinion if you see an individual in such crisis and you feel as if you are at the time able to offer some support, give them food and drink and refer to a local relief organisation.

Also I had the opportunity to interview Melanie Onn MP, the newly appointed shadow housing minister, at the Estuary TV studio’s state of the art university center on Nunn’s corner for the Voxx pops programme. Ms Onn was a very knowledgeable lady in the subject matter, having previously served on the Communities and Local Government Committee, which looks into housing issues. During our conversation she touched upon issues surrounding housing as a concern, which comes up again and again when I speak to people in Great Grimsby, whether it’s regarding empty properties, poor quality buildings, rip off letting fees or renting privately.

After taking part in these interviews , I have really started to think that in the essence of time we call life or what we can make of it, there is none to be spent slumped in a doorway begging for change; it is rather best to seek it, change that is in every sense of the word.

- By Dan Crofts

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