The homeless support community has been divided after charity Harp decided to start charging rough sleepers for food.
Divided, eh? How so..?
Soup kitchens have warned the move could leave vulnerable people without food, but Harp has explained it is part of a wider policy shift to end dependency on hand-outs.
Ah! *reads on*
Emma Simmonds, 32, from Canvey, who is trying to set up a homeless hostel on the island:
The issue is breaking the cycle. Some people who have spent a lot of time as street homeless almost lose their social skills.
One of the things that is important in society is to pay our way.
There are exceptions and I realise some people can’t get benefits, but even if they have been sanctioned, they can still get together £1.
I don’t think it’s too much to ask them to pay £1.50 for lunch. If they are getting benefits, that is not impossible by any stretch of the imagination.
Gary Turner, service operations manager for Harp:
While we are helping 1,070 people a year with homeless assistance at our Bradbury Centre, we feel that many rough sleepers are in a cycle of behaviour that is difficult to break without our support, compassion, determination and commitment.
From our statistics half the people we see are not actually homeless but need some vital assistance from us.
Seems eminently sensible! Who could argue?
Well, as ever, step forth the usual suspects:
Del Thomas, a volunteer with Street Spirit, which hands out food and tents to the homeless:
My concern is where will they find the food? There are groups giving out food on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
There is currently no provision on Tuesday and Thursday to cope with those who don’t receive benefits.
Gavin Callaghan, leader of Basildon Council’s Labour Group, who has campaigned for a homeless hostel in the town:
It makes me feel uncomfortable that a charity designed to look after the most needy is seeking to employ obstacles to the people who need them most.
Homelessness is not a lifestyle choice.
Simon Cross, 50, of Woodgrange Drive, Southend, who stood for the Green Party in Rochford and Southend East:
Personally I think Harp does a very good job without handing out food parcels at all.
I think they should basically pull away from that side of things and give more visible support to Street Spirit and the soup kitchens and those giving more ad hoc support.
I think we should disassociate food from the idea of dependency culture.
Dave Murray, 53, from pressure group Basildon Against The Cuts:
The reason there is homelessness or why there has been a big increase in homelessness is we have had a series of right-wing Governments and market failures, which means the safety net has had great big holes put in it.
If they are saying for reasons of character building, we want the homeless out earning money they have got the wrong end of the stick.
Homelessness is not a failure of the individual, it’s a failure of society.
Ah, I see. So all those who depend on a narrative of ‘It’s all the government’s fault!’ are pushing for their message to go undiluted.
So I do have to wonder if the dependency we are talking about here isn’t only the dependency of the homeless, but also those who make a living ministering to them…