Homeless Rush blockade of Govt Dept, last Friday

Mark mark at tlio.org.uk
Wed Dec 23 21:07:48 GMT 2009

Homeless Rush blockade of Govt Dept, last Friday:

Homes for the Homeless - no more rough sleepers dying of hypothermia

On Friday 18th December, homeless people who were camped at Trafalgar
Square with the Climate Camp decided to occupy the entrance to the
Department of Communities and Local Government to highlight the plight of
the homeless and in particular, the plight of rough sleepers in London
this Christmas. In the style of the Climate Camp target of the Climate
Rush, the direct-action strategy utilised was as a ‘Homeless Rush’, as a
group of around 30 activists – some homeless – holding a variety of
placards highlighting the reality of homelessness and the damnable dual
reality that exists of 30,000 empty homes in London, marched on mass from
Trafalgar Square down The Mall to Buckingham Palace. Outside Buckingham
Palace  there was a short assembly in front of the palace mainly in the
presence of tourists, with activists signing chants such as "What do we
Want", response "Homes, Homes!", "When do we want them?", response "Now,
Now!". After this, the Homeless rush continued onwards to Victoria,
reaching the Department of Communities and Local Government in short time.

Probably because of the monitoring of telephone numbers of people around
Trafalgar Sq, as well as, of course, CCTV, the police at the Department of
Communities and Local Government had advance notice that an action was
planned at their place upon arriving there, meaning that protestors were
unable to enter the building in any numbers (the doors were secured very
quickly, with one policeman standing in way of the entrance blocked by
security and a wooden stake on the other side). But Homeless Rush sat down
and blocked the main doorway entrance into the building. The protestors
launched into songs and chants they'dd started up during their walk from
Trafalgar Square.   Sat in the doorway of the government department with
responsibility for housing, Homeless Rush protestors then abruptly stopped
their song protest after a short while to share sandwiches, tea and mince
pies amongst their number, also offered but politely declined by the
officer stood over. By this time, s small group of activists went round to
the other side of the building to block the entrance of the other main set
of doors in and out of the building, preventing staff who’dd gone out for
their lunch from re-entering the building. Meanwhile, a large number of
people who it appeared had been enjoying a Christmas party inside the
building appeared to be stuck in a downstairs lobby unable to leave the
building; blockaded inside as they appeared to be (because the doors were
being prevented from being re-opened in case we entered inside on mass),
they were left passive to our sporadic chants and slogans written on
placards, some of which were held up to the glass for them to read.

The action was a great success, because after a while, two civil servants
from the department came down to speak with the group, on the proviso they
finish their protest. This was collectively agreed by all those involved,
and the protestors then proceeded to gather in order to question the two
government employees who atleast gave the impression they held some degree
of seniority in their department. This was filmed by one activist, with a
lots of points raised, particular "the desperate plight of rough sleepers
in London”, including a few personal testimonies of rough sleepers
themselves. One man talked of how his best friend lost his life on the
streets 2 weeks ago, dying of hypothermia. The same man also alleged that
the homeless charity Crisis were only providing a 9 to 6 service this
year, and not providing hostel accomodation this Christmas, especially
outrageous since this is one of the coldest Christmas periods for many,
many years. Other pertinant issues raised included the travesty that
despite of years of government throwing money around to prevent it, the
presence of rough sleepers in central London outrageously remains as
established a problem as ever, especially all-important in times of
critical weather as the current time, as well as "the need for
sustainable, self-build independent housing solutions" - with one example
highlighted being 'Emmaus UK', a charity which helps start up and support
collectively rule-based managed communities where homeless people are
encouraged to move on from homelessness".

With proceedings have taken a convivial and cordial basis with many
different people in attendance given the opportunity to speak about the
issues being raised, with people from the department then brought down a
tray of coffees for all to share, the two civil servants then a personal
assurance that the views and issues raised would be reported back and
that, on Monday lunchtime, they or a minister would meet with a delegation
from the group at the Big issue offices to discuss these issues further.

More information about the Diggers350 mailing list