VIDEO UK austerity & Birmingham homelessness epidemic
- Street's all you've got: Heavy-handed UK govt austerity exposed
Published on 3 Feb 2013
Britain which was once proud of having some of the most effective legislation in the world to fend off homelessness, now has over 50,000 people sleeping rough.
And as the government attempts to battle country's financial troubles, the number of homeless people is expected to rise.
RT's Polly Boiko went to meet some of those living on the streets.
The Archbishop of Birmingham reacts with shock and sadness after the killing of two Birmingham Big Issue vendors
"See all homeless people as our brothers and sisters"- Jan 28, 2013
Homeless people in our society face many problems, and in Birmingham on January 11 this extended to brutal murder. I was shocked and immensely saddened to hear of the killings of Wayne Lee Busst and Ian Watson-Gladwish.
My thoughts and prayers are with their families, their friends, and those who have offered Wayne and Ian support and friendship here in Birmingham.
This tragic event has the potential to make us all more aware of the hardships faced by individuals and families who are looking for a permanent home or searching for work.
Our cities can be harsh places for those who suddenly find themselves without friends and material resources. Cuts in benefits and council services combined with job losses as businesses close down are making the year ahead look very grim.
If we can think of Wayne and Ian as someones son, brother, father or friend, then that should encourage us to see all homeless or jobless people as our brothers and sisters.
As a Christian I cannot forget the words of Jesus Christ about himself and his ministry travelling through the villages and towns of Galilee yet never certain about how he would be received or where he would find a welcome or hospitality.
Jesus said: Foxes have holes and the birds of the air their nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. The words of Jesus touch our hearts and draw from us a generous response. People of faith are prompted by their beliefs to act justly towards those who are homeless and to try to walk a while in their shoe, to see life through their eyes.
There are many practical ways in which we can make this sentiment a reality buying the Big Issue regularly is a good start. We can support the voluntary agencies throughout the country that are trying to steer people towards permanent accommodation and work opportunities.
We can support local initiatives like the Birmingham Churches winter night shelter which opened on 18 January and which, for the next six weeks, will offer beds and food to those who are homeless in the City.
Alternatively we can join in with Poverty & Homelessness Action Week which begins on 26 January and is focussed on challenging the stigma and blame that often accompanies stories about poor and homeless people in the media.
Most important of all, however, is to treat every person we meet, whatever their circumstances, with dignity and respect, and to avoid unfounded judgements. Homelessness can affect anyone and what homeless people need is a hand up, not a disdainful look - or worse.
The Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Reverend Bernard Longley
Tolkien tower Perrott's Folly in Edgbaston sold to charity for £1
By Jane Tyler - Jan 31 2013
Perrotts Folly tower in Birmingham, said to have inspired JRR Tolkien in writing the Lord Of The Rings, has been sold for just £1.
It has now launched a £1 million fund-raising campaign to find the money needed for the renovations.
The plan of work includes proposals to reinstate the first floor, which has completely disappeared, renovate the towers ornate rooms and make the building structurally sound.
Tridents Ben Bradley said: In high winds it does shake a bit, but our quantity surveyors have assured us it is structurally safe and wont fall down for now.
But they have said if work isnt done soon it will start to crumble.
He said the project would also include the addition of a new building on the front of the tower.
It would feature a cafe and small community centre where arts exhibitions could be staged, as well as hosting social events for groups, such as parents and toddlers, and the homeless. The top and bottom floors of the main tower will be used as exhibition space, with the rest of the building playing host to exhibitions and workshops.
Mr Bradley said the tower would remain open for the next 12 to 18 months before shutting for the renovation. In the meantime, a public fund-raising campaign is set to begin, which will include asking people to sponsor a brick.
Trident Reach is part of the main Trident housing association group and specialises in projects for the homeless and vulnerable people.
Mr Bradley said: The area in which it is in is deprived, so the project will not only provide volunteering opportunities, but will also allow us to provide support services for residents. It wont just be a case of the building being used now and again, it will be in constant use.
Scores of Lord of the Rings fans already visit the tower each year as part of the Tolkien Trail, an unofficial route established by die-hard fans of the fantasy series.
Perrotts Folly itself was built in the centre of a magnificent medieval hunting park by eccentric landowner John Perrott in 1758.