NEWHAM CHARITIES AND RESIDENTS MEET UN POVERTY ENVOY
On Monday 12th November, people living in extreme poverty in Newham met with the UN’s poverty envoy to share evidence about the effects of austerity, poverty and inequality in the borough.
Community Links in Canning Town hosted Professor Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur for extreme poverty and human rights, who heard from local charity representatives and residents of the Newham borough. Residents gave personal accounts of how they have been left living in poverty and unsafe housing, fearful that leaving would result in them becoming ‘intentionally homeless’ and unable to receive support.
Amanda Dubarry, Chief Executive of Caritas Anchor House, shared with Alston and the 100-strong crowd that the borough in which we operate has the highest level of homelessness in the country. 1 in every 24 residents do not have a place to call home, and over 200 people sleep rough here each night – with many more expected to be unrecorded.
Caritas Anchor House provides a home to over 250 people each year, but does more than put a roof over people’s heads. We focus on finding solutions that help residents regain their confidence and learn new skills so they can work towards securing employment and independent living.
Most importantly – we ensure that residents gain the skills and self-reliance to sustain this long term. We provide the support necessary to tackle issues such as poor mental health, low education, long-term unemployment, relationship breakdown, or drug and alcohol dependencies – often a combination of these– which may have led to the person becoming homeless.
Residents of Newham told the human rights lawyer that as a result of austerity measures, some had been driven to prostitution, some had faced increased domestic abuse and others had been denied the ability to bring up their children properly. One woman shared how she had stayed with an abusive partner for months because “he was the only hope of being housed”, adding, “I didn’t want my baby to be evicted”.
Philip Alston visited Newham, one of the most deprived boroughs in the capital, as part of his two-week tour around the country to meet people directly affected by extreme deprivation, as well as government officials to discuss efforts to eradicate it. He said the accounts had “really exemplified the dramatic challenges so many are confronted with today”, and said he hoped to “galvanise” those in power to “promote the prospects for people to live the sort of lives they want to and should be able to live”.
Philip will report his findings at a press conference on Friday 16th November,12.00, which can be live-streamed here.