"I know that’s seen as an excuse, but it’s not an excuse. It’s the way it is".
Derryn, 26 years old
Twice as many as have died homeless as have died from "terrorist activity" across all of Western Europe, for the last 8 years.
With "terror" perpetually in western media it may shock you that over twice as many people have died homeless in the United Kingdom over the past year than have died due to terrorist activities across all of Western Europe in the past period.
The fear of terrorism has been used to justify over $70Bn in spending since 2001, and greatly increased government powers of control and surveillance over the public.
Dying Homeless is a project by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism to count those that die homeless in the UK.
According to their investigations, 484 people have died homeless so far this year. This is over twice the number of people that have died due to "terrorism" across Western Europe, for the past 8 years.
Over 320,000 people are without a home in the U.K right now.
Government and charities constantly say that "homelessness is a complex issue".
When a person does not have a home, they're homeless.
When a person has a home, they're not homeless.
People are on the streets with nowhere to go,
no place to call home,
no way to build a home,
no way to buy a home,
no way to rent a home,
It is not complex.
Over 20,000 homes in central London, and 25,378 in the commuter belt are empty.
That there is a lack of housing is not the issue.
That there is a lack of resources is not the issue.
The issue is that we lack the will to provide homes to those who cannot do it themselves.
If they could, they would.
Because the land is bought and sold, they can't.
Together we must.
No one else can.
"I know that the social structure that we’ve got at the moment the way that we do ownership and property means that some have lots and lots, some people have got 20 houses, some people haven’t got a roof over their head.
The inequality is rife and getting worse.
Should it be?
Well we should be living in a different way and a way that doesn’t allow for it".
One of the most incredible people I have ever met on the streets is a man who goes by the name of Friend. Friend is not homeless by his definition. He says "the Earth is our home". Friend has dedicated his entire life to protecting our home from those who seem to think it can be bought, sold and plundered without consequence.
Friend is without shelter however, when he would much rather have some, especially during winter. He sleeps under a London bridge.
Friend uses as little money as possible, believing it to be the tool by which the powerful control the poor. He survives on the kindness of others, and is given leftover food by the wonderful people from a London restaurant each night.
This beautiful person cycles across the city every single day, without fail, to collect unwanted food from a group of restaurants and shops that still care more about humanity than their inhuman corporate offices rules.
Their corporate office says that they are not allowed to do this, which is complete insanity, but thankfully they still do.
Every evening Friend goes about the city redistributing the food he is given among those in need, and after everything is gone, he eats what is left.
This isn't a fairytale. It is no exaggeration. I have seen it every day for over a year. Friend is incredible.
Every day I have been in London and seen him, he has done this.
It is worthy of the greatest respect.
What does it say about society that the most consistent servant of the homeless, is a man who himself is without a home.
Friend will get rather angry if you call him homeless, so I call him a warrior for truth.
We Can't Afford It
"But we don’t have that caring society, we’ve got a society that cares about money. Not one that care’s about life".
What is the argument against building more accommodation?
Is it that we cannot afford it?
The collective financial output of the British People is over £2 Trillion per year ($2.6 Trillion USD).
The government this year spent xBn on homelessness. With
In 2017 the U.K spent over £6Bn on two aircraft carriers.
Last year the british people spent over £25Bn on clothing.
The other world is free from corporations, free from nation states, free from money as a measure of success or worth.
It is a world where humanity recognizes the inherent beauty and value of life itself, and dedicates themselves to the protection and cultivation of all forms - from the smallest plant to the greatest animals. Such a world is not that far away, if we learn to use the tools of today against those that would conquer and divide us. It is not hard for an individual to change the world, but it is also not hard for the world to change an individual. Unless we stand up, individually, and change this world - then this world will change us all. Those who are not looking higher, are destined to forever fall.
For those with an ear, the need for social change has never been greater. We are on the edge of two worlds, one is a dark unfeeling, sterile, artificial place where corporate beasts grow from government beasts and eventually consume both government, the people and the planet.
This beast is already marking the minds of future generations with their image of humanity and their manufactured consciousness. Advertisements interrupt your consciousness continually and manufactured reports sponsored by invisible companies tell you what you "need" and who to get it from.
"You have to just sort of keep moving your hands you know, keep warm and just get through the night, and that’s just like one night”.
At the beginning of the night you’re reasonably warm your body heats warm and you’ve eaten something, but give it a few hours if it is cold and you start feeling the cold the weather is blowing and your body temperature is dropping sometimes you can’t sleep you have to just sort of keep moving your hands you know keep warm and just get through the night you know, and that’s just like one night”.
Some will say "well it costs money to grow food", but it doesn't have to. Food grows for free, right out of the ground, whether as a plant or a tree. All you need is soil and some seeds. Of course, corporations think they can own and patent these.
If you’re going to make food and accommodation cost money, which I believe should be a basic human right to anyone with any sense of the value of humanity over an imaginary token of value (money), then you had better pay for the food and accommodation of the people you won’t give money to! Either give them money, or give them food and accommodation. You can’t just cut people out of your game and say “you’re not allowed to play because we don’t like you”. That’s not how life works. That’s how death works, and it causes the physical, mental and eventual terminal ill health of the victims. Repealing the Vagrancy Act on its own will not be enough. Rough sleepers suffer harassment every day from a criminal justice system that automatically treats them as suspects, despite the fact that they are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of crime – being 15 times more likely to be victims of assault than the general public.
"But there are some nice moments you know in the morning and you wake up, and you're like up at 5 in the morning and you're walking along with your rucksack, and you see someone else, you know a homeless guy, and you don't even know who they are, you just give each other a little smile because you know that you've both been out through the same night, survived the night."
"When the temperature drops there's not much smiling going on. There's not much happiness. That's the reality". - Andy
The Government has quoted a timeline of 2027 to end homelessness, while annually more people are dying homeless in the U.K than the total deaths due to terrorism across all of western Europe, for all of the last 8 years combined.
"It's not easy. Nobody wants to be on these streets".
"I only do it if I have to do it, not because I want to. It's embarrassing".
"Until you've been on the streets yourself, you will never know what it's like".
"Why do people have to be homeless?"
Sanga, Sri Lanka.
Seeking Asylum in the U.K for the past 9 years.
"One of the cleaners would turn up early, 4am, to clean the windows on the building we was under. He was a lovely bloke. Used to go get us a coffee first thing and then he'd ask us to leave as he handed the coffee. I really appreciated that".
Compare that to the £500M spent on aid for the people of Yemen/Syria.
How can people help someone on the streets?
"Get him in accommodation or a hostel that's as simple as it gets".
What is the worst thing you've experienced recently on the streets?
"Being glassed and having to have surgery on my little finger. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger".
You get judged a lot when you're sleeping down on the ground".
"The hardest thing about being homeless is being homeless."
"Society is so brainwashed that they get consumed by nonsense. People haven't got compassion".
There are a lot of us out here now really struggling with this world, and we're tired of all the ways it's doing us wrong. That strain is only going to get greater, if we don't work together and try to do something about it.
This is my idea, the first part anyway. If you're not going to support it, I hope you have a better one.
The U.K spends £9.7Bn per year on coffee.
The U.K spends £16.1Bn on Alcohol.
The U.K spends £4.2Bn on soft drinks.
The U.K spends over £32Bn per year on clothing.
There is a spiritual group I saw come once, the odd corporate group lead by a street charity, and then there are the angels.
By the way I never saw any of the multimillion funded homeless charities on the streets. Never, ever. Not once. Not once did I ever meet a so called "outreach" worker. In what was total between 4 - 6 months of sleeping on the streets during the winter months, I have not met one. Not one. We, myself and those I have been with during those times, have not been in hard to find areas. We have been places one would expect to find the homeless. Does this mean they don't come? No. It just means they're completely ineffective if and when they do. I don't know if they're too intimidated to go to the places the homeless really sleep, but as I say I haven't seen them. It's a job they don't need paying for. The homeless could easily do it themselves. Just build us a place that's safe and dry, has free and clean showers, and we'll go there. You'll get all the metrics you want, but of course such a place will immediately be over run and over capacity - revealing the scale of the issue. Fortunately or unfortunately, it's obvious enough as it is.
If you live in the United Kingdom, sit down and read this clearly. There are people out there, wandering the streets, who cannot find a place to live or work. They are literally forced onto the street, with no way to buy food, no way to buy clothes, no way to wash, no way to rent, no way to pay a deposit, and hardly any way to work.
There are people out there, thousands of people, sleeping on the streets while they work in the cities. This is happening, to real human beings, just like you. In your country. Why.
Do we not have the resources?
Do we not have the space?
Or do we not care.
I hope you care.
Do you care?
According to government data, analysed by online estate agent HouseSimple, the number of empty homes has risen for the first time in a decade to 205,293,
Meanwhile in 2017 there were 20237 empty homes in London. Homes. Whole homes.
Compare that to the 8000 sleeping on the streets.
How is this happening.
The angels are a group of women, their family and friends, who come to central London once every two months to help the homeless in the Westminister area. For two montsh they gather donations from everyone that they know, and then rbing them all together one Saturday to the streets of London. These girls amaze me because I have seen them turn up on their own multiple times, just a few and a car or two. Surrounded by men they come out and start giving what they can away. They are so brave to come into what must be a very intimidating environment, because they're arrival is anticipated by the people on the street and so they form a huge crowd around them.
"The Angels" is the nickname my friend M gave them, who has after almost a year of struggling and a life threatening illness, found a permanent place to live.
He was first placed in a neighbourhood which he called "Afghanistan", not to disrespect the country or any ethnic group, M himself is from the Middle East, but it was so violent and destitute he refereed to it as such.
I am writing a book called "Street lights" which details my journey from the corporate world, across the planet, onto the streets of London, where I know make a living as a street artist trying to help wake up our world.
If you would like to pre-order a copy of the book and support the first print, and my work, then please click here.
"Society is so brainwashed that they get consumed by nonsense. People haven't got compassion".
"Please understand, homeless people are not animals.
Nobody wants to be homeless".
"The Vagrancy Act does not simply allow for prosecution of rough sleepers for what they do, but for who they are. It criminalises their very existence".
Thomas Zagoria, for The New Statesman
Despite being written almost 200 years ago, this act is used for the arrest and prosecution of homeless people simply for sleeping rough.
According to the 1824 Vagrancy Act, police are given powers to arrest and detain for up to three months anyone found, “lodging in any barn or outhouse, or in any deserted or unoccupied building, or in the open air, or under a tent, or in any cart or waggon, not having any visible means of subsistence”.
the Vagrancy Act is the only U.K law that specifically criminalises rough sleeping, and its repeal would severely restrict what rough sleepers could be harassed for.
A Freedom of Information request reported 1,810 prosecutions under the act in 2017, and in 2015 the number was more than 3,000.
"They don't know what it's like out here, because they're all boxed off in they're world. If they come out here, do what you're doing, with nothing but the clothes on their back, that's real reality".
All the photographs taken adjacent were taken in a single night. This is not set piece photography making the streets look worse than they really are, this is a 2 hour walk across the centre of a city that is home to
more multi millionaires than any other city in the world, with over 1400 millionaires living in the borough of westminster alone.
I mention Westminster because apart from being home to the U.K parliament and most Government offices, it is also the borough with the most people sleeping on the street in the country.
It is also where I took most of the photographs on this sight.
What is a human being without humanity? He's not being human. A robot, a beast, a number maybe - but not a human.
We need to learn to recognize those who truly care, and those who just pretend. This is to recognize the living from the dead.
"Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the world". - Archemedes
“Music is the universal language of mankind.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
We don't need more money, more jobs or more power.
Outer peace will never happen if within us there is anxiety and fear.
We cannot create security by building more and more powerful war machines.
We must go a new direction.
We must try something new.
We must give peace a chance.
If you want to be truly rich, then you've got to get over the idea of material riches. You have to understand that riches belong to the ones who appreciate them. The things of man's world can never make you rich.
“Music can change the world because it can change people.”
We need to stop competing for what was always free.
We have to learn to share what we create with one another.
We must evolve beyond ownership,
or the world will never truly change.
Nobody owns the Earth.
We just suffer from the beliefs of those that think they do.
For all the progress made in human rights across the world, it is still acceptable to discriminate against the homeless.
As a man carries all his belongs into a Cafe' in the early a.m because its been raining and cold all night and he wants a moment in the warmth and the dry, I have seen the staff immediately come up to him after sitting down and say directly "Are you going to buy something!?"
I have personally been spoken to in the ugliest of ways,
Staff have said to me immediately, over and over again, after buying something,
"To take away yeah"
I have seen them lie about the machines not working
(I don't like to drink coffee, so I usually buy porridge instead)
One day both the machines were not working, a blatant lie, but the assumption is we don't have enough self to resist or speak up - and that when we do they will be justified in their treatment.
I just saw a man in a suit, receive an instant "good morning" from staff, while the homeless are ignored.
Over and over and over again I have seen the homeless, the poor, discriminated against.
I have very rarely, almost never, seen people with drug addictions entering the same cafe's.
The first time I saw someone using heroine I was 20. Blood in the sink of a train station toilet and a man with a needle in his arm. This was a town in Switzerland, believe it or not. In the same town 15-16 year old girls were walking around handing out flyers for some kind of strip bar.
Once I saw it happen myself, and once my friend (Alan), told me it happened when he used a toilet in a Subway to use heroine, nearly dying and being found in the toilet by staff.
There is a ministry for war, (rebranded the ministry of defence in 1982),
A ministry for justice,
A ministry for agriculture,
Ministry of health,
But no ministry of happiness.
No ministry of peace.
No department of joy.
Lets build one.
We must stop competing with one another and learn to work together.
We have a beautiful planet to enjoy and protect, from the ones who have not learned yet.
With temperatures rising, animal populations on the verge of collapse, a mass extinction to come, we have no more time to waste thinking about whether the planet is in need of our help. We have to get together and heal this world from the damage of all our past ignorance. We must evolve, together, toward a better relationship between man and his neighbour, and our collective neighbour, the source of all our supposed material wealth, is nature.
What a man fashions out of the material he finds in the Earth is never to be held above the integrity of the Earth itself. Such thinking is madness, and that is has become acceptable is not a good sign for those who accept it.
Take off the uniforms, the degree titles, the honorifics, the supposed right to half of London's land and property, or the "head of state", and we are all human beings. We are all out here, on this glorious planet, filled with 10 billion kinds of species, and we all know in our heart that it is not right to leave a man freezing to death on the streets when there are a 8 million warm properties all around him.
To watch the homeless beg for money from the warmth of a restaurant and a steak dinner. It is not right. It's not human. It's not the way, the truth, or the life we should be living.
We must wake up. We must see the light. We are all human beings on the same planet in the same universe from the same origin.
Ultimately, behind it all, we are one, and there is only one law.
Love each other as yourselves.
How do you treat yourself?