One of the most obdurate memories of the Thatcher years wasthe seemingly perpetual rise in homelessness, particularly among teenagers, manyof whom became casualties of a ruthless change in the benefits system.
They arrived in London from other parts of the country tofind the streets paved not with gold but with – literally – their fellowtravellers. They remained on the streets because the hostels and refuges wherethey could otherwise have sheltered were either full or unsafe.
Nearly a quarter of a century later, rough sleeping is onthe increase again. The charity Broadway reports an 8% rise in the past year inthe number of rough sleepers on the capital’s streets, for example.
And some projects that try to reinvigorate the lives ofhomeless people – the voluntary groups that are David Cameron’s epitome of theBig Society – are struggling.
One of these is the Salford-run Positive Lifestyles, anon-profit making charity. But its Supported Living centre for single men, Lancaster House, isunder threat because of budget cuts by the Labour-run council.
Although the council insists no firm decision has been made,the charity is taking no chances and has launched a Save Lancaster Housecampaign on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (below).
The message is simple: shut Lancaster House and 38 peoplewill be homeless.
What then? Thirty-eight more cases for Salford’s adults’services? Or will the 38 just drift, 1980s-style, on to the streets to embarkupon a life of anonymity?
Picture: Rex Features