Readers’ letters, 14 January 2010

On the streets with nowhere to go

I recently volunteered with Crisis Christmas, based at the Dependency Centre in Battersea and left with serious concerns. There was no provision of beds for long-term supported onward referrals. During the day people are expected to return to the streets because the shelters primarily provide emergency accommodation at night.

Volunteers were disappointed by the lack of a government-led strategy to support rough sleepers who were obliged to return to the frozen streets once Crisis closed.

It would be great to get people off the streets by 2012, but our experience showed us there was a lack of beds, hostel places, supported facilities, easy access to detox and self-referral shelters. The church network of cold weather shelters appeared to be the only option for easy access or self-referral clients yet the majority were full to capacity.

Bureaucracy prevented chaotic people in distress from accessing correct support. A serious lack of direct access hostel provision across London meant that people could not present as homeless to the many hostels across the capital and ask for help.

Many people from the accession countries of the EU, particularly Poland, had nowhere to go but the streets because they do not have recourse to public funds. This excludes them from nearly all mainstream homeless hostels – which are funded entirely by the civic authorities.

There needs to be a radical shift in policy, so that nobody is beyond the help of the state. Until this happens, we will continue to see a burgeoning street homeless population. Many will be forced to sleep rough in sub-zero conditions tonight, tomorrow and the day after while the rest of us return to a warm home.

Philip Burke, Trustee, Upper Room at St Saviour’s Hammersmith

Three copies are better than two

I read with interest Jennifer Harvey’s advice regarding digital photos (Frontline Focus, 24 September,

Digital photography gives a much wider scope for the preservation of images than traditional photography.

While printing copies into an album is a great idea (and the tactile nature of a photo album can only be a good thing from a therapeutic point of view), domestic inkjet printers will not produce an image that will last as long as a traditional emulsion-process based photo.

For best results, digital images should be printed at a chemist or a dedicated photographic outlet. Inkjet will fade and actually vanish if exposed to water.

A good rule of thumb is that unless data is present in two places (for example, a hard disk and a CD), it doesn’t really exist at all. I would extend that to three. A precious digital photo album, in addition to printing favourite pictures, should be copied to CDs or DVDs and then stored in a safe place, preferably at a different location, with regular updates.

In addition, there are many online photosharing websites (such as Flickr) where images can be stored and shared.

I also dispute Harvey’s idea that the storage mediums we use now will not be readable in years to come.

Optical (CDs and DVDs) and solid state storage (flash sticks) are the product of decades of research and development and there is likely to be vested commercial interest in keeping these formats readable by domestic machines for decades to come.

Noel Hannan, Information security consultant

Liverpool degree in social pedagogy

Liverpool Hope University is the only university that offers a BA in social pedagogy (News, 26 November,

We introduced our programme two years ago and it has been very popular. It not only focuses on residential care and working with children but offers a wider understanding of theories and practices that underpin social pedagogy.

In Britain there is a rich tradition of creative community-oriented approaches to welfare needs and modern social pedagogy draws on all these traditions to produce active and engaged workers who are committed to improving the lives of some of the most marginalised groups in our society.

Dr Vassilis Ioakimidis, Programme leader, BA (Hons) Social Pedagogy and Social Care, Liverpool Hope University

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