Charities that support the homeless population have condemned the home secretary for her statement referring to sleeping on the streets as a “lifestyle choice,” leading to a widespread negative response.
Several groups, such as Crisis, Centrepoint, St Mungo’s, and Pathway, reacted to Suella Braverman’s proposed measures to address the issue of tent encampments in cities. Braverman primarily attributed the problem to people “from other countries.”
A message from the charitable organization states: “Choosing to sleep on the streets is not a matter of choice. Blaming those who are forced to sleep rough will only alienate them from receiving assistance and potentially lead them into poverty, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation. In the worst case scenario, we will witness a rise in preventable deaths and injuries.”
“People sleeping rough frequently experience violence and abuse. The impact on their physical and mental health is significant. The average age of death for people experiencing homelessness is just 45 for men and 43 for women. This is not a life people choose.”
Braverman wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “The British people are compassionate. We will always support those who are genuinely homeless. But we cannot allow our streets to be taken over by rows of tents occupied by people, many of them from abroad, living on the streets as a lifestyle choice.
If we do not intervene immediately, British cities will follow the same path as cities in the US such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, where ineffective policies have resulted in a surge of crime, drug use, and poor living conditions.
Rewording: No one in the UK should have to live in a tent on the streets. There are alternatives available for individuals who do not wish to be homeless, and the government is collaborating with local authorities to improve comprehensive assistance, such as treatment for those struggling with substance abuse.
“What I aim to prevent, and what the majority of law-abiding citizens want me to prevent, is individuals who create inconvenience and discomfort for others by setting up tents in public areas, engaging in aggressive begging, theft, drug use, littering, and causing harm to our neighborhoods.”
Matt Downie, the chief executive of Crisis, said: “In the last 12 months, in London, there’s been a 29% increase in people experiencing their first night on the streets. This is a consequence of poverty – and poverty in this country has been exacerbated by policy choices.”