A few weeks back I noticed on my Facebook a note for help.
Since then a new Facebook group has been published from the same people who noticed people sleeping rough in graveyards and open bins in West London Southall. The request for help outlined the outrage that in this day and age in what many perceive to be a prosperous country, as compared to an international context, people should be denied basic human rights.
Over the last few days the temperatures in the UK are consistently sub-zero.
As our boilers work on over-drive I urge you to watch the video footage featured on the Facebook group page featuring those effected and brave enough to come forward. Their predicament will surely haunt you and stress the urgent call for action.
The first question I ask is why issue of the homeless is not being addressed by our politicians or those that have facilities that could aid?
Here are some facts:
- Up to 75 people are involved in sleeping rough – this is a rough audit
- The vast majority have drug issues
- Scabies is rife.
- Showers, fresh clothes & rooms for rent are required
- The situation will worsen with more homeless expected.
- Medical support & drugs are required to address specific health issues.
What has happened to date ?
- Some Sikh Temples have taken the initiative and offered help.
- Sikh Temples have continued to feed those suffering
- A drugs and rehabilitation organisation are desperately seeking more support
- £1000 has been collected from voluntary donations but more is desperately needed.
In addition, last week two satellite based programmes issued a broadcast to highlight their plight. However, there is confusion regarding who these people are! It appears that the issue of Immigrant student visas is clouding the issue.
Yes, many of the 75 may comprise of overseas students
NB There are some deeper issues here.
- Southall in West London in recent years has become a dominant UK player in street drugs and crime.
- Is it not the duty of the Police to take ownership?
- Politicians are talking about the expected new arrivals (new students) over the coming months. Are they linking a possible fate?
- What about UK colleges offering questionable places with some educational establishments under investigation?
- There needs to be a campaign (video and audio) to educate those considering coming to the UK about the reality of the UK economy and their expectations for their associated visa. There are issues for those who wish to go back, especially if unscrupulous ‘overseas agents’ have run off with their money or those who will return to face hardship on another street, i.e: another country, same situation!
- Many have have sold-up their properties or land to seek a better life in the UK.
An opportunity for Interfaith charity work:
In terms of immediate solutions. I have said this at one of the meetings. An audit of the 75+ homeless needs to take place. If some of the 75 are penniless students what can we do as a community to provide them with basic care. Local Sikh Gurdwaras, Hindu Temples, Muslim Mosques and Christian Churches have an opportunity to join forces in the spirit of interfaith and community cohesion to solve a problem on their doorsteps.
- This means raising funds and setting-up a temporary housing area.
- An assessment centre should be established to help the 75+, documenting through an appraisal and action plan with associated forms for support established for each affected.
- If drug dependency is an issue, then let us bring this issue into the public domain to raise more funds and get those with medical skills involved.
The issue should not be clouded by political ambition or suggesting that a signal or precedent is established if you help someone – after all we are all human and we need to take the attitude of self-less service for immediate help. We must also be strong enough to use existing agencies or set-up a new infrastructure & knowledge base of preventative strategies.