Freedom News

Autonomous Winter Shelter opened in former St. Mungo’s hostel

Freedom has received the following communique:

There were over 2688 people recorded to be sleeping rough in London on any one night in 2020.

The temperature at night will be cold enough to cause hypothermia for 23 days this month. That’s 23 days where there’s a real possibility that someone sleeping on the street may not wake up.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

With rough sleeper increases of up to 150% in some London boroughs last year, homelessness remains a problem that cannot be brushed under the rug. This number has climbed 52% over the past decade alone – it will continue to rise and we are doing something because we know this doesn’t need to keep happening.

People shouldn’t be forced to freeze to death on the streets of a country that has chosen to forget them. Rising rent costs and continuous lack of compassion from the services set up to help has enabled a widespread blind eye for those in situations like these – it’s time we worked from the ground up. None of us should be one missed paycheck away from homelessness – and none of us should be sleeping rough in the middle of winter. We must show solidarity with our own communities.

We are occupying the former St. Mungo’s Hostel on Gray’s Inn Road in protest against the austerity measures that have enabled the continuous neglect of those sleeping rough. As houseless people, no longer will we sit and wait to freeze to death on the streets. We are sick of sombre spaces and half-assed hostels. Instead, we are taking direct action – organising to assist each other in times of crisis.

We aim to provide a safe and warm space for people to stay, create, and take care of themselves and others within a community environment. It is not enough to provide what people need to survive – we aim to cultivate a space where it is possible for people to thrive.

Our ethos is simple – mutual respect, mutual aid. Our spaces are open to all, though abuse of any kind is not welcomed. Ours is a space of community support and community prosperity.

Over the course of the past year, we have seen this government make some questionable decisions regarding aid for houseless people. The promotion of Whitechapel Mission, alongside a tannoy announcement reminding passengers not to give directly to the homeless was publicly apologised for by Priti Patel, yet it remains in circulation. People who wish to help are encouraged to keep their assistance always one step removed from those who need it – allowing those in power to virtue signal their sympathy, while ignoring the issue at hand.

Direct action is the only way forward. We can demonstrate our solidarity with those in need if we try. Stand with us as we tackle the housing crisis head on, through mutual aid and mutual respect.

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