I know first-hand how hard it is for single homeless people, especially single men, to get help. I was homeless for a spell when younger, not living on the streets, but one of the countless ‘hidden homeless’ living in squats, derelict houses, and sofa-hopping, slowly exhausting the goodwill of my long-suffering friends.
That’s why I am a supporter of Crisis, the charity for single homeless people, and in particular, why I’m supporting their current campaign – No One Turned Away.
Under current law, if a single homeless person approaches their council for help they are quite often turned away as they are not considered to be in ‘priority need’ for housing. Single homeless people should get meaningful advice and assistance from their council, but too often they are given little help or turned away with no help at all.
Crisis is asking for a change in the law, so that every homeless person gets the help they so desperately need. Local authorities should have a duty to give single homeless people written advice, adequate assistance and emergency accommodation when they need it.
The Tories made big promises on homelessness in their 2010 manifesto, not least that every government department would have a minister responsible for reducing homelessness, and all the misery that goes along with it.
While we’ve yet to see anything along those lines, the Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, is writing a paper right now on exactly how the Government does plan to prevent homelessness.
It’s vital to influence what goes in his report and get a commitment for the Government to improve the advice that councils give to single homeless people. But experience has shown that no minister will do this unless he thinks the issue has public support.
Please join me in writing to Grant Shapps. Over 400 people have already done so, but the more that take part, the greater impact we will have.