LONDON THE EPICENTRE OF HOMELESSNESS
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While corporation-owned media headlines describe any who despise Israel’s hate crimes against the disarmed Palestinians as anti-Semites a poignant Calvary of homeless mourners dragged their battered bags and suitcases filled with their worldly possessions into Trafalgar Square’s church. They did so to draw attention to and pay respects to London’s rough sleepers who have died on the British capitol’s streets.
Nearly 150 people are known to have perished sleeping rough last year in London alone; the average age for women to die was 43. Many lay dead for hours before they were found.
Today, a vicar who provided the service at last week’s memorial service at St Martin-in-the-Fields urged busy Londoners to stop and care, as he recounted the heartbreaking story of a rough-sleeper found shivering on the church steps draped in a flimsy baby blanket for paltry warmth.
Data from the Office for National Statistics shows 148 people died on London’s streets last year, the UK’s joint-highest proportion with the north-west, and 126 of them were honoured at the service. Their names were read out, as they received dignity in death through the data-gathering work of Clerkenwell’s Museum of Homelessness and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Museum co-founder Matthew Turtle said: “In our research we regularly see situations where people die from entirely treatable conditions.”
Amid eulogies at the service there were performances by homeless opera singers and choristers, bringing tears to many eyes with a cover of This Is Me from The Greatest Showman film.
Tents were erected at the altar as a memorial, including one belonging to a man known as Sparky who died inside in Regent’s Park. A sleeping bag was also arranged on a crucifix bearing Christ’s face depicting a homeless Jesus.
The Rev Richard Carter, the associate vicar for the mission at St Martin’s, which supports the nearby Connection outreach centre, said:
“Each one of those people we remember has a name, they were all given dignity at birth, and all had hopes and joys and fears in their lives. We’re seeing more people in need than we’ve ever seen before. If everybody just stopped and cared, brought somebody who was homeless a cup of tea, or if someone’s hungry gets something to eat for them, treat people like human beings and you’ll feel more human too.
“There are mental health problems, problems of addiction, problems of people who are facing great loneliness or who are just unable to cope with the stresses of life, and they’re coming into our churches all the time because they’ve got nowhere else to turn.
“There was a man on the steps the other day and he was absolute shivering with the cold, he was in a baby’s crochet blanket. It was pouring with rain, he was wet to the skin and he was almost suffering from hypothermia, just trembling.
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