You will have seen homeless people sleeping rough in Barking and Dagenham. Although an unfortunate common sight in our time, it is completely unacceptable. Further evidence that the hard fought battles of former generations to achieve a welfare state are being erased before our eyes.
We are the fifth richest country in the world, yet the Government shout “austerity” at us at every opportunity, encouraged and supported by a Tory led media.
I visited Butler Court in Dagenham earlier this year; a hostel in the heart of Dagenham. The most heart-breaking part was to see entire families living in one room. At any one time the Hostel holds 150 children. 150 children – growing up without the security of a place to call home.
This is heart-breaking enough but I as a Councillor see families in Bed and Breakfast hotels, and sofa surfing at friends and family, who wouldn’t even qualify for a hostel place. Sadly houses of huge multiple occupancy are common place. The Council Department has a hard job keeping up with the investigations but do sterling work in this area.
The Grenfell Tower tragedy highlighted many of these issues, but sadly many of those families are waiting to be re housed still. The mainstream Media has ceased reporting the plight of the families. Meanwhile the public is in danger of getting used to seeing people sleeping on the street. Homelessness is not an inevitability.
What is the answer? Build Council homes. Build truly affordable housing.
Unless we do this, we are turning the clock back to a by-gone era that our parents and grandparents thought they had left behind. We need to remember the social contract at the heart of our democracy – we go to work, we pay our taxes and in return we have a Welfare State.
Is a home to live in too much to ask? No – not in the fifth richest country in the world.
It is simply unacceptable.
Councillor Margaret Mullane – Village Ward
*Article first published Christmas 2017 in GMB B11 Newsletter