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Can the £3m spent on fireworks “solve homelessness” in UK? (Column By Ash)

By Ash
This is a continuation/thread to my previous post responding to hate comments on Sadiq Khan’s FB post re #nye fireworks titled Criticism over New Year fireworks in London
I’m sure there has been backlash over the years for every vanity project (such as the £950 million that Boris, his predecessor, had racked up during his term).  However, I feel like I should speak up to ignorant comments. Trolling or not, this has inspired me to write something down, and it’s useful stuff, so I hope you enjoy!
It’s funny how some people think that £3m can solve the homelessness issue that has been a global problem for as long as humans have had homes. They’re wrong.
Some facts to consider before we begin:
1. Homeless in UK has doubled since the conservative government came into power in 2010, rising yearly to current (FOI data’s) rate: (over 307,000, that is 1 in 200 people)
2. Homelessness in UK was being lowered before 2010.
3. London has the highest number of homeless: 1 in 59 people
4. The London New Year’s fireworks have been going on for way longer than 2010 (since 2000 on and off).
The problem with the argument
To consider x amount of money as the solution to homelessness is way too simplistic a viewpoint. Did you think that throwing £3m split evenly amongst the homeless population of London (not even UK) would mean they have enough money to buy/rent a house, buy clothes and food, and land a job?
Using above figures, this would give each person £9.77.
The above figure is not even enough for a decent meal (or just about enough) in London for most of us. But to consider saving, and the whole ‘every penny counts’ line of argument, here’s what I think I might be able to buy, using this amount (off the top of my head, because I’m not normal- but I digress).
As a woman, I would be able to buy myself:
packet of tampons- £2
sandwich for 7 days – £5.95 (Tuna sandwiches go for 80p a portion)
1 packet of tights for the cold (£3 from primark for a packet of 3 so I’d have to do two less days of sandwiches)
Or, spend £2 on some water/drink for warmth/food
Or, get 2 more days of sandwiches or something
Considering that I’d be dishevelled etc, I’m not even sure if I’d be allowed into primark or tesco to buy my food, so this may not even work out. Apart from this, I guess I could cut down on tampons and resort to using dirty socks or charity/clothes bank raid for when I’m bleeding. This would probably last until I get too skinny/starved to get my periods, by which point malnourishment and staying warm/sheltered may be a bigger concern.
Larger issues at hand
Have you even researched into what support and infrastructure is needed for the homeless to be rehabilitated? It is undeniable that the policies and austerity measures put in place has directly contributed to the increase of homelessness (and on a related note, the the rise in poverty) in the UK. The lack of affordable and council houses in the worst hit areas goes hand in hand with this. Serious thoughts need to be put into tackling these issues at a national level before looking at homelessness at a regional level.
Practicalities of it all
Even if they were able to get x amount of money that would be significant enough to ‘help’, several other questions still need tackling.
How would they be able to use above money to land themselves immediate support, find a way to “get off the streets” and stay off? They don’t have access to the things we consider available (internet, laptop, phone, the ability to check, answer, and make calls and emails as needed, references, proof of ID, home address for getting correspondence, etc.).
Homelessness is a polemic issue that needs to be researched and actively worked on. The mayor is doing some good work (from research) for rough sleepers, linking together various charities that are actively providing the much needed support and expertise to tackle the problem at the root level rather than just thinking about their next meal.
This is clearly close to many people’s hearts (including myself), and for good reason. It is so very easy to fall into homelessness; and it is even more relevant today as more of us skip meals to provide for warm ‘family’ dinner as a parent than not, and more of us are increasingly affected by the fluctuations in the market (how many of us are getting interest charged on previously charge-free overdraft? That is literally money we don’t have). I can see many of us being affected by this, unless we do something together.
On doing your own research, or finding how to help
Please do your research before making offhand comments, and any of these charities like Crisis or Shelter can help inform you. If you’re concerned about rough sleepers, there’s Street Link that tackles immediate support.  If you’er worried about your donation being used up on admin, there are platforms such as Greater Change, an app crowdfunded/developed by Oxford Graduate; or read up on the terms of donation (which all charities provide).
Aswathy Mohanaprakas (neé Mohanlal) is an Oxford graduate and works in Information Security at Oxford during the day, while writing on the side. She is currently working on a translation of an 18th Century Portuguese text cataloguing Malabarese medicinal plants which will be published by the Natural History Museum of London as part of their digitised collection. Aswathy is a young parent and a proud feminist. She also does editorial pieces for Kerala Link. You can follow her blogs on https://truthflows.wordpress.com