Tag Archives: Killing With Kindness

Some Homelessness Charities Are Not What They Seem. Make Sure You’re Not Killing With Kindness.

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You could be killing with kindness if you give money to some homelessness charities.

Many well-meaning people donate spare change to homelessness charities without realising they might be supporting policies which harm, and could even kill homeless people.

Several homeless charities use workfare staff who face benefit sanctions if they refuse to work for free.  These sanctions have been linked to suicides, homelessness, ill health and desperate poverty.  Both the Salvation Army and the YMCA are heavily involved with workfare.

Despite many tragic deaths on the streets many homelessness charities oppose help being given directly such as soups runs.  One organisation (Thamesreach) even supported a Tory council’s failed attempt to make it illegal to give food to homeless people.

Thamesreach, again, and St Mungo’s carry out a racist repatriation scheme on behalf of the Tory government in which workers are sent out to coerce homeless migrants to go back to where they came from. Thamesreach have also been involved in ‘supporting’ squat evictions.

Many homelessness charities have co-operated with the police to run anti-begging campaigns which stereotype homeless people as drug addicts or criminals.  Homeless people already often face abuse and even violence from some members of the public – these campaigns make that more likely.

Most homelessness charities which beg for money aren’t really poor.  Chief Executives are often paid huge sums whilst the homelessness industry holds regular conferences in swanky hotels where tickets can cost as much as £600!

By giving money to homelessness charities you are encouraging behaviour which often harms homeless people.  Give responsibly and give direct to the homeless this Christmas.  If you are concerned about rising homelessness then contact a local housing campaign and get involved.

Happy Christmas folks – jv

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Don’t Give Money To Beggars At Christmas Say Bastards Who Run Homelessness Charities

Nasty posters like these have become a regular feature in some cities in over the Christmas period.

Nasty posters like these have become a regular feature in some cities in over the Christmas period.

Homelessness charities in two cities have decided to spread some Christmas love by urging people not to give money to homeless beggars in the cold Winter months.

A campaign spearheaded by Liverpool Council, with the backing of some local charities and the police, warns that “Your Kindness Could Kill” because many homeless people spend all their money on drugs or alcohol.  Elsewhere in Bath the message is more explicit, warning that the city has a reputation for being “easy to beg in” which could harm the town “socially and economically”.

These nasty campaigns began in 2003 when several London charities including Thamesreach and St Mungos teamed up with Tory Westminster Council to produce posters warning that beggars spend all their money drugs.  The message from the charities was clear, give the money to us instead.  Those whopping charity Chief Executive salaries won’t pay themselves.

There was a time when homelessness charities fought against this kind of lazy stereo-typing of homeless people who often face verbal and even physical abuse on the streets.  They might even have argued that addiction is an illness and not one that will be cured by making life even harder for those affected.  These days however they are squarely behind the ludicrous notion that the very worst thing you can do for someone in poverty is give them what they need – which is some money.

No-one’s life is going to be saved by a hot mug of soup or a quid from a passer by.  But it might just mean that person has a mildly less shit day because of the kindness of strangers.  And that applies whatever they spend the money on, which is as likely to be hostel service charges as drugs or alcohol.  Benefit sanctions and brutal social security cuts mean that more people than ever are likely to be begging for food or to put the heating on this Christmas.  They are just collateral damage however in this moral campaign to hide homelessness away and stop shoppers being bothered.

If these campaigns are successful and less money is given to beggars over the Christmas period then all that will mean is that those who were begging for food will go hungry and people with substance dependencies will have to beg for longer.  Or turn to other far more dangerous ways of making money, such as sex work or crime.  Nobody is going to suddenly come off heroin because of a few bad days begging.  Addiction doesn’t work that way, as these charities are well aware.

The sad truth is that Killing With Kindness campaigns have little to do with getting people off the streets and more to do with fundraising over the lucrative festive period.  Homelessness organisations, in particular the Big Issue who back the Bath campaign, are in direct competition for funds with people begging on the street.  They know that some people don’t trust charities and would rather give direct help.  They are using these campaigns to try and guilt trip the public into changing their behaviour in the nastiest way possible by pretending that if you give some money to a beggar it will kill them.

It’s never even occurred to the Ned Flanders wannabes running homeless charities that some people don’t care if beggars spend their money on drink or drugs.  Few people are heartless enough to begrudge a homeless person a drink at Christmas, even if they are a fucking alcoholic.  It’s not like those in charge of these charities are planning on opening up emergency detox centres on Christmas Eve. They’ll be too busy getting pissed along with everyone else.

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Housing Crisis, What Housing Crisis? Says Homelessness Charity Boss Jeremy Swain

killing-with-kindnessAn astonishing post from the boss of one of London’s largest housing charities shows how those paid a small fortune to represent homeless people are completely out of touch with the reality that their so-called ‘service users’ face.

Jeremy Swain is the boss of Thames Reach, one of the largest providers of emergency and temporary accommodation for single homeless people in London and the South East.  Recently he attended a meeting with Unemployment Minister Esther McVey, along with other highly paid charity chief executives and civil servants.

In his write up of this cosy affair you might have thought that the boss of a charity which works with the homeless people would tear into the Minister about the bedroom tax, the benefit cap or the current brutal benefit sanctioning regime. Possibly he might have mentioned that Boris Johnson’s housing strategy for London contains virtually no provision for desperately needed social housing.  He might even have offered a vicious condemnation of the current appalling policies aimed at people sleeping on the streets which amount to little more than police harassment of those without a home.  Surely at least he would mention soaring rents which are currently making much of the South East unaffordable for people on low incomes, or changes to housing benefits which force people under 35 to try and find a room in a shared house rather than self-contained accommodation.

But instead of this Jeremy writes on the Inside Housing website* that he is  concerned that parts of the homelessness industry “doggedly refuses to acknowledge successes” or makes it an “an article of faith that these are the worst of times” which may even “lead us into unquestioningly believing this to be true”.   There is no mention at all of the vicious welfare reforms which have already taken place, or of the carnage that is yet to come.

The latest rough sleeping figures show a shocking 37% leap in the number of people on the streets since this Government weren’t elected.  Statutory homelessness, which in practice largely means homeless families, remains at a relentlessly high level, despite changes to the law which means families can now be fobbed off into the expensive and insecure private sector rather than qualifying for social housing.  Jeremy is right that the number of families in temporary accommodation has fallen slightly since the obscene highs that were seen at times under the Labour Government.  But really, so fucking what.  As the Bedroom Tax begins to bite, and Discretionary Housing Payments run dry then things are set to get much worse, possibly even than we can yet imagine.

For those on low incomes, who are often in insecure housing to begin with, a crisis is taking place, but not one that will ever affect Jeremy’s pay packet.  Benefits are being stopped or sanctioned for the most trivial of reasons.  Atos assessments are driving people into both desperate poverty and ongoing despair.  Plans to strip Disability Living Allowance from a fifth of disabled people will only make things far worse, as will further cuts to housing benefits which will now shrink on an annual basis.  And throughout this onslaught a hate-filled campaign has emanated from the DWP and Esther McVey herself which has led to the most marginalised groups – exactly the type of people Thames Reach work with – being abused in both the national press and the streets.

The sad truth is that at heart Jeremy Swain and Esther McVey are both committed to the idea that poverty is a personal failing rather than a structural consequence of a capitalist economy.  That’s why Swain has remained obsessed with making Special Brew or cider more expensive, rather than tackling the causes of why so many people are drinking themselves to death.  Just like Iain Duncan Smith, Swain believes making poor people even poorer is the only way to bring them into line.

This is why he was also happy to lend Thames Reach’s name to the Killing With Kindness campaign which re-emerged last year and warned “well meaning people” not to give money to beggars because they might spend it on drugs.  In a breath-takingly nasty move, this campaign was launched over the Christmas period.  Give the money to us instead said Thames Reach, so Jeremy Swain can continue stuffing vol-au-vents down his neck and sucking up to murderous monsters like Esther McVey.  There’s a good living to be made from homeless people for charity chief executives after all.  And no need to derail the gravy train, and risk those lucrative Government contracts, by telling DWP ministers what you really think of their vile behaviour.

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