Saturday, January 25, 2014

We are still waiting to hear from West London Churches Homeless Concern about flat offer

In my blog of 3 January "We are refused a referral to a winter shelter", I mentioned a rolling winter night shelter programme run by West London Churches Homeless Concern (WLCHC). We enrolled in the programme three weeks ago and last Tuesday Declan was approached by a WLCHC caseworker about an offer of a flat for us made by the Single Homeless Project (SHP). I suspect it will come to nothing and on 10 April, when this programme finishes and we have nowhere to sleep except back in the Barbican, the police will finally get to arrest one or both us (see blog of 1 January 2014 "Declan calls into Bishopsgate Police Station for a crime intel report"). So Declan has decided to update his complaint to the United Nations under Article 19 (freedom of expression) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. SHP's flat offer is mentioned in draft paragraph 30:

On 7 January 2014, the applicant and his wife enrolled in a winter night shelter programme for rough sleepers run by the West London Churches Homeless Concern (WLCHC). Two days later, on 9 January, they turned up at Barnsbury Jobcentre of the Department for Work and Pensions to sign on for Jobseeker’s Allowance only to be told that the applicant’s joint claim had been terminated. Neither the applicant nor his wife has ever been issued with a letter of termination with or without appeal rights, and on 22 January the applicant filed a claim in the High Court for judicial review against Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith on the ground of procedural unfairness (see Annex 24, Department for Work and Pensions: Application for Judicial Review, pp. XX-XX) – it is noted in the applicant’s claim form that in late 2013 he was twice sanctioned on a new claim for jobseeker’s allowance that he never made. On 21 January, a WLCHC caseworker informed the applicant that the Single Homeless Project (SHP) could have a flat for him and his wife paid for by housing benefit if he could come up with £6,000 that would replace payments of jobseeker’s allowance for a year. The applicant expressed an interest in the proposition, believing that N4CM could be in a position to employ him for £6,000 pa through a Pay As You Earn (PAYE) scheme set up by his accountant; but the SHP has yet to clarify the kind of paperwork they require from the applicant to make their offer of a flat a reality (see Annex 25, Single Homeless Project: Email to WLCHC re offer of a flat, pp. XX-XX).

In the previous blog, I published Declan's email to the WLCHC caseworker he was speaking with last Tuesday night before he bedded down with other rough sleepers in a church hall in Fulham. We have heard nothing further from the WLCHC on the matter, and have absolutely no idea whether SHP’s offer is even still on the table.

Friday, January 03, 2014

We are refused a referral to a winter shelter

Neither Declan nor I are fans of winter shelters for the homeless, but since we are now in serious danger at night (see previous blog Declan calls into Bishopsgate Police Station for a crime intel report), we have decided to put aside our misgivings and try to see if we can avail of two spaces in a "rolling shelter" - run in a few areas of London, these winter programmes basically involve a circuit of churches taking it in turn to offer floor space to rough sleepers. This afternoon Declan phoned the Robes Project, which operates in the area of Southwark and Lambeth, to be told that to be admitted to their winter programme we needed a referral from a centre called the Ace of Clubs. We took a bus for 50 minutes and waited in this centre for an hour, only to be told by the manager, Sarah Miles, that the Robes Project had no vacancies. Too bad the Robes Project forgot to mention that!

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I left this manager with a copy of the email below from one of the principal contributors to our Church and State site, Don Collins, President of the Washington DC-based International Services Assistance Fund, but somehow I don't think she will be getting back to us any day soon. This is a quite brilliant "To Whom It May Concern" email Don provided us with yesterday. Everything is his own, including how we might be able to come off the street with a morsel of help from anyone working with the homeless.
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It turns out that the West London Churches Homeless Concern is the only charity which operates a self-referral rolling shelter, but as luck would have it, we found out this afternoon that they are starting up a second circuit in Hammersmith and Fulham on Monday with 35 spaces. Registration for the first night will be on a first come first serve basis so we will be there for registration in plenty of time. In the meantime, we are taking mighty seriously the threat this week by PC 960CP of Bishopsgate Police Station that City of London Corporation street cleaners are going to drench our belongings one of these nights (see previous blog), and so for the next three nights will be keeping ourselves safe and warm by sleeping in 24-hour buses out of Hammersmith bus station.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Declan calls into Bishopsgate Police Station for a crime intel report

I explained in the blog "Political Imprisonme​nt in the UK: I expect to be arrested early in the New Year" that Salters fenced us out of our sleeping pitch on 20 December (see here for stunning photos), and that Declan and I slept for three nights in King's Cross train station to make it safely to one of Crisis at Christmas residential centres 23-29 December. Now that Crisis at Christmas is over we thought that next on the plate was an arrest, but it seems that before that there are a couple of surprises in store for us. Last night somebody ran a bucket of water across a stairs above our heads as soon as we had bedded down in the Barbican.

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This is what the underside of our ground sheet looked like when we got up this morning:
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We are concerned about what's on the menu for tonight, so this morning we went to Bishopsgate Police Station where I showed PC 960CP all the photos I had taken. According to this police officer, there was no crime because the drenching could have been done by City of London Corporation street cleaners. In fact, he added, we should expect them every night from now on. He found our situation so hilarious that Declan told him as we were leaving that I would mention it in my blog, to which he replied, "Please do."

It would appear Bishopsgate Police have just invented a new policy: this photo, which can be seen in the previous blog, "We are forced to forgo safety for sleep and bed down in the Barbican at 4am", shows that there is not a drop of water to be seen at about 3.30am the night before last!

And I took this photo at 9pm on 10 December, a few hours after Declan found the spot in the Barbican. Again, not a drop of water!
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City of London Corporation street cleaners have a cosy relationship with the police, as we discovered to our cost before we were fenced out of Salters. This photograph appears in my blog of 17 August 2013, "City of London Police stop/search at 3.15am with street cleaners)":
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