London Launch of Labour Campaign to End Homelessness

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Labour Campaign to End Homelessness London Launch

  • Tuesday, 24 November, 18:00
  • Diskus Centre, Unite House, 128 Theobald’s Road, Holborn, London. WC1X 8TN

We are very pleased to invite you to the first major Labour Campaign to End Homelessness event, our London Launch!

The Labour Campaign to End Homelessness will be working with Homeless charities and MPs alike in the coming years, to build viable policies to actively work towards ending homelessness by 2030, that we hope the Labour cabinet will endorse in their 2020 manifesto.

At the launch we will have speakers from our campaign, as well as James Murray (Executive Member for Housing and Development for Islington council), representatives from UK charities Crisis and London based St Mungo’s and Jon Glackin of Streets Kitchen.

We invite you to join us in discussion, to show your support in our ongoing campaign and we welcome any volunteers and suggestions you may like to put forward to help us progress in our mission to end homelessness.

Light refreshments will be provided.

*** UPDATE ***

When originally organising our launch, we had raised some money amongst ourselves to purchase banners and alcoholic beverages for the event. We have now decided that we are going to use this money to purchase a large thermal container, food and vital supplies to distribute to the homeless on an outreach mission after the event.

When the launch comes to a close, we will be taking to the street with homeless outreach teams Todos and Streets Kitchen. We welcome anyone who would like to join us and urge attendees to bring along any non-perishable food, socks, gloves, sleeping bags, toiletries etc for us to distribute on the streets.

For further information please contact us via our Facebook Page, on Twitter @LCEH2030 or email our chair atcllr.sam.stopp@brent.gov.uk.

 

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3 thoughts on “London Launch of Labour Campaign to End Homelessness

  1. Letter to Labour Campaign to End Homelessness on increasing commercialisation of homeless agencies

    The campaign have a launch meeting at our union head office with an invited speaker from the executive of St Mungos Broadway. Unite members in the sector have asked our branch Chair to write to the organisers expressing support for the aims of the campaign along with our concerns about service providers in the sector:

    Dear Councillor Sam Stopp

    I am writing to welcome the initiative to launch a Labour Campaign to End Homelessness. The Unite housing branch organises workers in homelessness organisations across London as well as housing associations and other housing agencies. We are keen to be involved in campaigning for better services, for social housing, and for an end to austerity. Members in the sector have asked me to bring a number of issues to your attention – I outline them below.

    While homelessness and rough sleeping has been rising, funding for vital services has been squeezed. In addition, the process of competitive contracting has led to organisations being restructured with an ever more commercial orientation in order to focus on winning contracts, rather than being needs based. As part of this process homelessness agencies have made repeated attempts to drive down pay and conditions in the sector.

    While staff pay and conditions are squeezed no such restraint has been seen on the pay of senior executives; the £160,000 pay off to the former St Mungos Chief Executive at the organisations recent merger with Broadway for example was profoundly abhorrent to staff. One of the first moves by the new executive team was to attempt to cut front line staff pay by 19%. Such changes in the sector are causing real hardship to our members, even pushing them into homelessness themselves in some cases. But it is also important to emphasise that the downgrading of staff and deskilling of frontline roles has a detrimental impact on services.

    Employers will often acknowledge the problem to us in negotiations, saying they share our concern at the impact on services but arguing that there is nothing they can do because of the role of the other providers. Collectively this is a deeply irresponsible approach. The heads of homelessness agencies believe that they justify their increasing salaries by winning ‘business’ from each other in a display of misplaced entrepreneurialism. In the process they are undermining the important services our members deliver.

    Unite is calling on employers to sign up to a national agreement to protect sector standards. We would urge your campaign to support us in that regard.

    In recent years the change of culture in homelessness organisations has resulted in increasing complaints of bullying and harassment from our members in the sector. This ‘robust’ management approach is particularly inappropriate in a sector working with vulnerable clients. It is important to note that a key feature of recent abuse scandals has been an organisational culture that discourages people from speaking out and making criticisms. A particular complaint is that the new set of senior executives use restructuring and contrived “redundancies” to remove staff who they believe are not sufficiently signed up to the new commercial ethos – in St Mungos Broadway they are dismissively referred to by the executive as “blockers”.

    The approach to industrial relations taken by many homelessness agencies has become so combative as to be quite bizarre. While we do have union recognition at Centrepoint for example, management has banned Unite officers from speaking to members on Centrepoint premises meaning that we are forced to conduct union business on a clandestine basis.

    Helen Giles MBE, the current HR director of St Mungos Broadway, which is by no means the worst employer in the sector, set out her philosophy in the trade press a few years ago. She notes that the big job cuts she foresees will have a positive side – presumably driving out so called “blockers.”

    She observes, “In the meantime, the government’s notion that all the people about to be flung out of public and voluntary services will miraculously become employed in and promote the growth of a newly booming commercial sector is laughable. Get real. A significant proportion are UNEMPLOYABLE (capitals in the original) because they’ve been allowed to get away with murder for years”.

    Members point out that part of their role is to counter the idea that victims of the crisis are unemployable. The argument behind the article is wrong and the mode of expression is intemperate, but St Mungos staff tell me that it is as nothing compared to her methods in the workplace. In the same article she complains about an “employment law regime which has pretty much scotched the concept and practice of personal responsibility for anything in the workplace.” Worker protection in UK employment law is amongst the weakest in Europe but apparently still far too much for Ms Giles.

    In this context it is not surprising that staff in homeless agencies, both front line workers and operational managers, have asked to me convey to you that they feel unable to speak freely about their concerns in relation to homelessness services. However, it is clear that while in the past homelessness agencies spoke out for their clients and were frequently led by people with a genuine understanding of homelessness this is no longer the case. Any review of homelessness policy will need to look critically the nature of the organisations delivering these vital services.

    Best wishes

    Paul Kershaw
    Chair, Unite LE1111 Housing Workers

    http://www.housingworkers.org.uk/

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  2. We are very pleased to say that our launch event on Tuesday was a huge success! We heard some fantastic speeches and ideas from our speakers Cllr Sam Stopp (LCEH chair and founder), David Lammy MP, Matt Downie from Crisis, Cllr James Murray (Executive Member for Housing and Development), Beatrice Orchard from St Mungo’s and Jon Glackin of Streets Kitchen, as well as a fantastic Q&A.

    After the launch a large group of both committee members and attendees took to the streets to distribute hot food and beverages as well as warm clothing and toiletries to the homeless on the streets of central London. Everyone worked as a team and all we had to give was very gratefully received.

    We would like to thank everyone who attended the launch and expressed great interest in getting behind our campaign, as well as those who braved the cold and came out with us on outreach afterwards.

    We would also like to thank our speakers for taking the time to speak at the launch, Unite for allowing us to host our event at their headquarters in Holborn, Streets Kitchen who were very hands on in helping with the outreach, Tottenham LP for their help and support, Stefan Esmaeili our fantastic logo and technical support and Ray Hempstead for filming the launch and taking some brilliant photos which will be uploaded over the weekend.

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  3. For those who were unable to attend the launch, here is the concluding part of our chair Cllr Sam Stopp’s speech.

    From here we want to build an army of Labour volunteers to get out on the streets and face the homelessness crisis.

    We’ve done a lot of talking. Now it’s time for doing.

    Now, I know the media and our enemies in politics are going to say it can’t be done.

    But who among our enemies in the press and the Tory Party predicted that Jeremy Corbyn would become leader of the Labour Party, doubling size of the party in the process?
    Comrades, after the last world war, the greatest Labour government – the Attlee government – rebuilt our country.

    They revolutionised education to teach us all.

    They built the National Health Service to heal us all.

    And they built whole new towns to house us all.

    So, please, don’t let any self-serving, self-satisfied Tory tell you what our party, the Labour Party, the greatest force for social justice in the history of our country cannot do!

    And let us say to our country, our great country, don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid! When people ask you if we can truly end homelessness, tell them: of course we can! We can do this much and more.

    Because if we can find money to kill people, we can find money to house people!

    Comrades, I want you to do something for me tonight, please.

    I ask you to go from this place tonight and take with you this message:
    Go out from this place tonight and tell our enemies that we have a dream of what this country could be. A country that is not afraid of the outside world or of its own shadow.

    A country that does not preach morality to far flung corners of the world before it has even begun to solve its own problems.

    A prosperous country where no-one is left behind, no matter their colour, their creed, their religion, their gender or their sexuality.

    Where the idea of anyone living without a home is as intolerable to all of us as it would be if it happened to the person we love the most in the world.
    Friends, I ask you to go out from this place tonight and tell our country that Labour is back,

    Labour is coming home and that together we, the Labour Party, will end homelessness in our lifetime.

    Thank you very much.

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