KC. Bill. Caroline. Gareth. Simon.
These are the names of just five of the citizens that Brighton and Hove have lost in the recent months.
They had been calling the streets and the shop doorways their homes, but like more than 50 other homeless people in the last three years, they have been killed by the neglect of the local council and central government.
In an interview with The Argus in January of this year, Dr Tim Worthley, who works from the Brighton Homeless Healthcare centre in Morley Street, said that a “perfect storm” of cuts and rising living costs will claim even more lives.
At present, one homeless person is dying every two weeks in Brighton and Hove. These are deaths that are entirely preventable, but are continuing to occur.
Since 2010, the number of homeless people has increased by 200% in the area and across the UK homeless numbers have reached their highest figure since 2008. Charities now warn that we are in the midst of a “homeless crisis”.
Since David Cameron became Prime Minister, he and his government have routinely transferred money from the poorest in society into the hands of the wealthiest. Despite early claims that “we are all in this together”, it has clearly not been the case.
Whilst multinational corporations avoid paying tax and the highest earners have their income tax rates lowered, the most needy have their services cut and their welfare stripped. The security net that so many rely on is being dismantled to the point of collapse.
It is through the resulting holes that people like KC, Bill, Caroline, Gareth, and Simon, continue to slip. Unnoticed by the large majority of the population, their names become statistics on spreadsheets that make for shameful reading.
There are those locally who continue to do fantastic work in an attempt to improve the deteriorating situation of those in the homeless community. Projects like OpSafe, groups like the Love Activists, and organisations such as Off The Fence and The Clocktower Sanctuary, to name but a few, attempt to fill the welfare gaps where the government and council fail to do their jobs.
These individuals and organisations, however, cannot do it alone, and such is the depth of the problem, that only a political solution would provide the necessary conditions to end the crisis.
On Saturday April 16th, the people of Brighton and Hove will unite in a show of solidarity for those who have been abandoned to the streets. As a way of highlighting the inadequate response to the crisis, hundreds will march through the streets, and in a symbolic display of direct action, will deliver coffins to the council offices.
Of course these coffins are symbolic, and represent the lives that have been lost recently, but in a depressing reality, unless the situation changes, these coffins also represent the only future that awaits members of the homeless community.
Unless action is taken now to address the problem, the people forced to live on the streets of Brighton and Hove are, unfortunately, simply waiting to die.
If, like us, you are outraged by this situation, we urge you to come and march with us on Saturday 16th April, and help us to deliver the coffins to the council offices.
The Brighton OpSafe March for the Homeless starts at 11:00 at the Old Steine.
We would be honoured if you joined us.
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