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Showing posts from March, 2018

We must face the messy, discomforting realities of rough sleeping if we are to end it

There is a shopping mall in London where over 50 people sleep rough every night. It represents the biggest congregation of rough sleepers in the capital. At 7.30 in the morning when I was there recently it was clearing rapidly of rough sleepers who were being hastened along by the amiable security staff. Around 20 people were still gathering together their belongings. There was an astonishing range of nationalities - English, Indian, Eritrean, Portuguese, Italian, Lithuanian and Romanian. Some were heading off to work shifts in restaurants and on building sites. One man proudly flourished his CSCS card, that highly prized proof that the owner has the required training and qualifications to work in the construction industry. He would be returning that night to the relative comfort of the mall. Relative, that is, to the other places where outreach workers meet rough sleepers in 21st century London – on buses, in public toilets, in hospital A&E departments, along canal towpaths, at e…