Councils seem to house homeless families then forget them. Shouldn't they be doing more?

In this series Poppy Noor discusses an issue concerning how we can build happy, well-run communities. But what do you think? Send us your thoughts and responses

Charles Dickens was born in 1812 into a country divided by great wealth and poverty. I wonder if in 2018 we are heading back there, when I see how we are treating the poor. One night recently I was walking home when I saw someone standing in the doorway of his home; one of a row of flats that have just been refurbished by the council for homeless families staying in B&Bs. I’m a local councillor (but not in the majority party) and asked him if he needed anything for his new place. He took me in and I saw he was sleeping on the floor, while his daughter was in a cot with no mattress. The house had no cooker, beds, fridge … nothing. I organised a donation through Facebook and people contributed everything from cleaning products and toiletries, welcome cards and £120 in cash, to a new bed, upgraded cot and fridge. A local homeless charity collected and delivered the furniture. It was a really nice story. But since then I have found seven of his neighbouring families in the same position. Over the past year our council has been overwhelmed by increasing homelessness, and forced to put them up in B&Bs and sheltered accommodation, at great expense. Now it has rehoused them, but support for the families has completely stopped. These families were moved into bare properties, then left to repair their lives on their own. When I asked the council’s housing manager what the council does to help people after they move in, I was told: “Nothing.” Why are councils still treating the poor – especially the children – like second-class citizens? Why is there no joined-up approach to helping homeless families rebuild their lives?

This is a very sad situation and unfortunately, it’s not uncommon. Furniture poverty is a growing issue among low income families. Research by Poverty and Social Exclusion predicts that in 2012, 12 million people could not afford one or more essential household items. So you are right to be concerned. Not having essential white goods such as a cooker, fridge or washing machine can dramatically affect people’s lives. As Luke Evans, digital media editor at the Turn2us charity, which fights to alleviate UK poverty, says: “Not having essential items can mean going hungry, because you have no fridge to store food, or appliances to cook with, but can’t afford a takeaway; it can mean sending a child to school in dirty clothes because you have no washing machine.”

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Source: The Guardian: Homelessness

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