Charities that support homelessness have expressed disapproval towards the home secretary for her statement that sleeping on the streets is a matter of personal preference, leading to widespread backlash.
Organisations including Crisis, Centrepoint, St Mungo’s and Pathway responded to Suella Braverman’s purported plans to crack down on the pitching of tents in urban areas, which she largely blamed on individuals “from abroad”.
A communication from the charitable organizations states: “Choosing to sleep on the streets is not a voluntary decision. Blaming individuals who are forced to sleep rough will only drive them further away from assistance and into poverty, making them vulnerable to exploitation. At the most extreme level, we will witness a rise in preventable deaths and casualties.”
Homeless individuals often face violence and mistreatment while sleeping on the streets. This can have a significant effect on their overall well-being. Shockingly, the average lifespan for those experiencing homelessness is only 45 for men and 43 for women. It is important to note that this is not a lifestyle that people willingly choose.
Braverman wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “The British people are compassionate. We will always support those who are genuinely homeless. But we cannot allow our streets to be taken over by rows of tents occupied by people, many of them from abroad, living on the streets as a lifestyle choice.
If we do not intervene immediately to prevent this, cities in Britain will face similar issues as cities in the United States such as San Francisco and Los Angeles. This is due to ineffective policies that have resulted in a surge of crime, drug use, and poverty.
No one in the UK should have to reside in a tent on the streets. There are alternatives available for individuals who do not wish to sleep outside, and the government is collaborating with local governments to enhance comprehensive assistance, including treatment for those struggling with substance abuse.
“What I want to stop, and what the law-abiding majority wants us to stop, is those who cause nuisance and distress to other people by pitching tents in public spaces, aggressively begging, stealing, taking drugs, littering, and blighting our communities.”
The CEO of Crisis, Matt Downie, stated that there has been a 29% rise in individuals sleeping on the streets for the first time in London over the past year. He attributed this to poverty, which has worsened in the country due to policy decisions.