Make sure night shelters aren't forced to close
  • Petitioned Lord Freud

This petition was delivered to:

Department for Work and Pensions
Lord Freud

Make sure night shelters aren't forced to close

    1. Petition by

      John Gall, Emmaus

As someone who was homeless for best part of a decade, I know first-hand the devastating impact this can have on people's physical and mental health. My life fell apart when my wife died. I didn’t know how to cope and started drinking heavily. Eventually I lost my job and before long I found myself living on the streets. For a long time, night shelters were a crucial refuge for me when I had nowhere else to go. I’m still in touch with a night shelter in Chichester which supported me when I needed their help the most.

But night shelters throughout England and Wales may now be threatened with closure by a legal ruling that supported Isle of Anglesey Council's decision to deny housing benefit to a man who was staying in a night shelter. This was done on the grounds that it could not be considered his ‘home’, as the man did not have the right to leave his possessions there or a guaranteed place every night.

Many night shelters rely on Housing Benefit payments to keep their services running. This income is needed more now than ever before, as many homelessness services are already seeing other sources of funding fall due to local authority spending cuts. Without access to Housing Benefit, many shelters may be forced to close their doors.

I am extremely concerned that other Councils may now stop Housing Benefit payments to emergency shelters, placing night shelters and Nightstop schemes around the country at risk of closure. This would leave many homeless and vulnerable people with nowhere to sleep at night, placing lives in danger.

I now work for Emmaus, a homelessness charity that provides an opportunity for formerly homeless people to access long term housing and get their lives on track again. This worked for me and has completely changed my life. Overcoming homelessness has meant I have been able to rebuild my life and has given me the opportunity to renew my relationship with my son. Without the initial support I received from night shelters and the longer term support from Emmaus, I might still be living on the streets today.

Undermining the existence of emergency homelessness services will have devastating consequences for so many people, who use their services as a last resort. The government must act now to do something about this.

Please sign this petition to urge Lord Freud and the Department for Work and Pensions to take immediate action to ensure that night shelters are not forced to close due to the loss of Housing Benefit.

 

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 75,000 signatures
    2. The threat to night shelters is discussed in the House of Lords

      The threat to night shelters was discussed in the House of Lords this week, but the Department of Work and Pensions has yet to take action to protect them from closing.

      Lord Alton of Liverpool called for the government to issue new guidance to local authorities to ensure that night shelters are not forced to close through loss of housing benefit. Lord Freud replied that night shelters may need to find alternative sources of funding. But in the current economic climate, this is easier said than done.

      There is a lot of confusion among local authorities about what the tribunal ruling means. Some have suspended housing benefit payments to night shelters entirely; some have agreed to continue it; some have asked night shelters to change how they operate; many others are still reviewing their housing benefit policies.

      This is why it is so important that Lord Freud provides clear guidance to local authorities to make sure that night shelters throughout the country stay open.

    3. Reached 50,000 signatures
    4. Our petition is gaining momentum - thank you and please keep sharing

      Our petition to protect night shelters has been featured in Inside Housing and in Patrick Butler's Guardian Blog.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/patrick-butler-cuts-blog/2013/may/22/homelessness-despair-amid-nigh-shelter-crisis-rough-sleeping?CMP=twt_gu

      http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/care/charity-launches-campaign-to-save-night-shelters/6527053.article

      On Monday in the House of Commons, Julie Hilling MP asked Iain Duncan Smith what action the Department for Work and Pensions plans to take to make sure that night shelters are not forced to close. He replied that he is looking at the issue, along with Lord Freud.

      http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2013-05-20a.897.5&s=homelessness#g902.4

      It is vital that Lord Freud and the DWP act decisively to protect night shelters' right to access housing benefit. Please keep sharing our petition to make sure that they give this issue the attention it deserves.

    5. Reached 500 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • larry mc kenna BELFAST, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 5 months ago

      homeless 11 years it's an existence !

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Victoria beagrie LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 5 months ago

      I've been homeless and I've relied on these shelters a number of times, its a lonely time being homeless and its scary at times, these shelters keep so many people safe, and fed. Seriously wise up to the reality of homelessness. It would be a tragedy to close shelters.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Jean Sudhurst FARNWORTH GREATER MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 5 months ago

      God deliver us from this evil government

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Marion Joslin BRIGHTON, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 6 months ago

      No one should be homeless and not have basic needs.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Helena Adams FARNHAM, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 6 months ago

      This vital work must continue.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

    Develop your own tools to win.

    Use the Change.org API to develop your own organizing tools. Find out how to get started.