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7th November 2023

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News and comment from

Roy Lilley

What happened to him...


Comm’s professionals use the word… ‘landing’.

How a phrase or an idea announced to the public, is accepted by the audience. Public opinion. 

Does it land well?

You can’t please all the people all the time but you do want the messages for your target audience, to ‘land well’.

When an unpopular government is in the foothills of an election, landing political messages takes on a particular significance. 

Keep the faithful, faithful and appeal to the lost and undecideds. 

Talking about something as emotive as rough sleeping, with all the connotations of benefits, welfare, the implications of scrounging and what-not, the throw of the dice and happenstance …

... landing those messages takes care and judgement. Being tough, being just, being thoughtful and innovative.

Being cack-handed, cruel and brutal, to please rightwing supporters is likely to explode in-yer-face.

Saying begging and rough sleeping should be ‘driven from the streets’ because there is a social-care safety-net… in some places, will land like a cow-pat in a pancake factory.

No, I’m not talking about Cruella-the-Hun!

I'm talking about that nice John Major, in 1994… during the run up to the European elections. 

He has since sort-of rehabilitated himself as a political Uncle. 

Make no mistake he could be a nasty piece of work. 

Make no mistake… it's a stripe of nastiness that runs through the Tory Party, like the blue stripe in yer toothpaste.

Cruella-the-Hun, is manoeuvring for the post-election Tory Party leadership. She calculates ‘tuff -tories’ will want tougher, hence she’s announced that rough sleeping is a ‘life-style choice’, and she'll put a stop to it.

Well, good luck with that!

It is true, there are some rough sleepers who don’t want a hostel place. 

That comes with all kinds of complex mental health problems and life experiences that takes months of kindness, patience and persistence for MH street-triage-teams to unravel.

As for the rest… 

The average Brit believes they could only pay their rent or mortgage for two-and-a-half months if they lost their job. After that? 


Generally, the shortage and un-affordability of housing is the critical underlying factor for all forms of homelessness… add to that the cost of living crisis.

The average age of death for homeless people is 45 for men and 43 for women and they are almost 17 times more likely to be victims of violence.

More than one in three have been hit or kicked or experienced some other form of violence.

Homeless people are over nine times more likely to take their own life than the general population.

There’s no national figure for how many people are homeless across the UK…

... because homelessness is recorded differently in each nation, and often homeless people don’t show up in official statistics.

There are some pretty good estimates;

  • In London numbers have surged 20% in just a year… 10,053 rough sleepers spotted between April 2022 and March 23
  • English councils supported 298,430 households to prevent or relieve homelessness between April 2022 and March 23… 6.8% higher than the previous year… 3% above pre-Covid levels.
  • In Wales, 12,537 households were assessed as homeless between April 2022 and March 23… 7% up.
  • Scotland… 32,242 households were assessed as homeless between April 2022 and March 23… that means 36,848 adults and 16,263 children. Higher than pre-pandemic. 
  • Women are often missing from all counts. Because of the risk of violence on the streets, women are likely to seek shelter in cafes or transport hubs and not be spotted in 'Snapshot' street counts.

HMG estimates (Page 4) the annual costs to government of a single homeless person is around £30,000...

... add the cost of health problems, mental health, substance misuse and alcohol dependency...

... actually, we can't...

... HMG admit, ‘there is a lack of evidence of the numbers of homeless people who use these services’. So all up costs?

Dunno… probably double.

During Covid, HMG policies got people off the streets. And, it can be done again with;

  • Emergency accommodation
  • Organising housing benefits to preventing eviction
  • Investing in social housing 
  • Help people to stay in their homes, ending no-fault evictions
  • Talk to people with lived experience, find out; what did they need and when 

Cruella looks callous, unthinking, insensitive and brutal...

... but when you look at the money, and HMG estimate the all up cost is over £1bn...

... and the potential cost savings from realigning that expenditure to address the root-causes and bring rough sleeping to an end…

...she looks pretty dim and flat footed…

… but, more worrying; she looks like John Major...

... and we know what happened to him.

Latest from Fr John Luke....

He sends his thanks for your generosity last week and some more pictures of the latest situation.... yes, he's bought tents! Don't tell 'you know who'. More news and pictures here.

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Dr Paul Lambden

A Brief History of Mental Illness

'...the discovery of chlorpormazine changed everything, directly or indirectly and since then the nature of psychiatry has developed apace...'

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