End compassion shaming and start building social housing

End compassion shaming and start building social housing

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Matthew Kidd started this petition to Andy Burnham

Open letter to Andy Burnham,

Dear Mr Burnham,

I feel compelled to write to you as I am extremely uncomfortable with the messages your office is sending out about how the public should respond to the homeless crisis affecting our city. I have worked with people who've been excluded from mainstream society for the past 10 years, prior to this I was myself excluded. 
During the past 10 years I have often been faced with the conflict that arises between promoting human rights whilst working in a trauma informed way and the notion of enforcing intervention under the guise of "working in the public's best interests". 
Firstly, I mostly agree that money given to people who are begging will not help them in the long run. It is a statement of fact (or at the very least its based on some factual evidence/existing research) rather than judgement to suggest most of it will be spent on drugs and alcohol. There is no judgement on my part as I myself would choose to be completely out of it were I forced to choose between the streets and the very worst of the temporary accomodation on offer in Greater Manchester. 
Lets be very clear, a lot of people using the rhetoric of "don't give money, don't give food, don't give bedding or clothing" are adopting a protective parent mentality that is somewhat ironic given they do not actually use their power to protect people.
You seem to be adopting a concerning mentality which suggests we've got to make life on the streets more grueling than the dingiest of night-shelters and B&Bs. 
The idea being that if we refuse anyone money, a hot meal, bedding or clothing and strip rough sleeping to its rawest and most unforgiving form then people will be so uncomfortable they'll have to stop being visibly homeless. But the same people who have been criticising so called 'soup kitchens' because they say homeless people are exploited outside of them by drug-dealers are happy to pay Housing Benefit to slum landlords who take this exploitation of the vulnerable up several notches. The assumption that "mummy knows best" about what people need is not only disrespectful towards the rights of adults, its also rarely the case. When the only choice is between barbarism in view of the public and hidden barbarism Its clear our politicians want people to choose hidden barbarism and pretend that it is not taking place at all. 
Politicians blame the public who give to people on the streets, they blame the drugs and alcohol, they blame the homeless person for making a so called "lifestyle choice". They never look at those in power and their role in building enough social housing and raising the minimum standards expected in temporary acccomodation. 
To blame the individuals who show empathy & compassion with hot meals, bedding and the adoption of a trauma informed, relationship building approach to finding someone a home is truly concerning. The reason Housing First is the most effective way to end rough sleeping (based on current evidence between 8 and 9 out of 10 will go on to sustain a tenancy) for victims of trauma is because it uses a human rights approach, everyone has the right to a home and everyone should be treated with dignity in deciding where that home will be.
Please end this compassion shaming, protective parent mentality and commit to building more habitable homes and raising the standards and safety of night shelters, temporary accommodation & much of the so called 'supported' housing projects which have become a license to print money and are offering very little in the way of actual meaningful support.

 

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