Giles Watling, Member of Parliament for Clacton, intervened recently on a debate regarding homelessness.
Giles spoke during a debate regarding the Housing and Local Government Department’s expenditure for homelessness, and what more can be done to support those who are street-homeless. This issue was brought into sharp focus by the terrible weather.
“The Government has had a determined focus to tackle homelessness and in recent times has strengthened the law with the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, has seen £1 billion investment allocated to combating rough sleeping through to 2020, and an additional £28 million investment in the Housing First initiative to get people off the street fast to get the support they need”.
However, Giles made the point in the chamber that money and laws are not enough.
“We need to make sure we hear the voices of those on the street and take flexible approaches and not treat interventions as a one size fits all service. As a student, I studied sociology and I spent some time on the streets and at St Martin-in-the-Fields at the Crypt. I know that people went through a lot of hard times down there, and that was many years ago—decades and decades ago. This problem has been with us for such a long time but what we must do is think outside the box and always be flexible.
Housing First is a great and a wonderful project, but we must go further and communicate with rough sleepers and ask them why they are there. It is not always just about mental health or family breakdown. There are many reasons, but we must keep the lines of communication open and listen”.