From: Dave Walsh, Rotherfield Avenue, Bexhill
The Observer followed up on Sab Willerton’s laudable effort to provide homeless people with mobile accommodation (‘Abandoned shelter removed by council’, March 22).
Sab’s intervention deserves the highest praise but the predictable outcome and your editorial about another homeless man who has been directly helped, plus perhaps the current Channel 4 documentary ‘60 Days On The Streets’, serve to illustrate what the agencies involved usually say – that homelessness can be a very intransigent and difficult problem.
Some people just need a roof over their head and initial support. Others have very complex, challenging personal needs and behaviours that continue whether they are housed or not. These may not be overcome with the best will in the world!
In that sense and for a variety of reasons that I will not rehearse here, the very first shelter occupant was probably not such a good choice. I hope Mr Willerton has not been put off his mission.
A basic rule of social work is that it’s nice to feel some reward for your efforts but not to expect it – I’m sure he didn’t. In my opinion, politically correct social attitudes can often hamper things as well. I’ve seen people at risk refusing to leave Manchester streets, in desperate temperatures threatening their lives, because they don’t want to be housed with others or they feel safer where they are and used to it.
Most of the old ‘outdated’ hospital sheltered environments were closed down years ago in favour of a progressive ‘Care In The Community’ agenda (and saving money) but many individuals still fall through the cracks. There is really no protective enforcement process available.
Care on the streets!