A report from Cllr Karen Constantine

“Saturday 11th September 2016 is a night we won’t forget. There were 11 of us camped out. Local Labour Party members, Gill and Jo Corless, Harry Scobie, Pip Hazlewood, Aram Rawf, Kaz Peet & myself. We were joined by Kennedy Tower resident, Deborah Walsh and homeless guys Ricky, Adam and Julz. The weather was mainly dry, the noise from local bars was loud. Terrifically loud! 3 of those camping out overnight had work to go to on Sunday so an extra big thanks to them.

Big thanks also to the numerous people who came to visit our little camp to keep our spirits up and to a special visitor who bought us food! We chatted with a few people about trying to raise awareness of Thanet’s housing crisis. Everyone was very supportive. We distributed some Porchlight information leaflets.

Julz volunteers as a peer advocacy health worker among homeless people. He is trained in health advocacy and supported by Groundswell – inclusive solutions to homelessness. Groundswell.org.uk

Julz had come down from London to meet up with us about initiative. This is much needed in Thanet. Our next steps will be to start discussions to get this operating here as soon as possible. I will be contacting Thanet District Council, Porchlight and Groundswell to kick start some discussions.

Local Debbie also joined us – she explained ‘I’ve been homeless I know what it’s like. My house was burned down, in an arson attack, and I had nothing just the clothes I stood up in. When people see you are homeless they can be horrible to you, they spit at you, punch and kick you. They should know better, be kinder, as this can happen to anyone. I’ve got through it now but I had to come and support you all.’

On a similar note, one of the guys who has been homeless for the past 3 years holds down a full time job in the catering trade as a carvery chef. Although he works full time, he can’t afford rent. What a sad indictment of our society when people who work can’t can’t afford a roof over their heads!

I will keep on pressuring TDC for more imaginative and contemporary solutions to Thanet’s housing crisis and will keep on supportong individuals and families in my ward. I’m currently dealing with 5 appalling and urgent situations I wonder how many more there are across Thanet?”

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