Homelessness, HS2 and Here to sign the petition #healthandsafetyforall
See ATD Fourth World's new platform for the Open Letter here.
Meanwhile, the UK Government’s Home Office:
1. …Now has the power to enter your home without a warrant and remove any person living there if they think, with reasonable cause, that they are infected with Covid-19 – see police powers here. We are told by a Police Commissioner that "It's a collective endeavour. This is ultimately about saving lives and not putting a strain on the NHS and our other emergency services." Health Secretary Matt Hancock warns us "we cannot relax our discipline now"….
And yet the Home Office…
2. …Did not intervene when Bailiffs and HS2 security failed to maintain social distancing (see film here) during their attempt – under the cover of darkness on Monday night - to dislodge the young British people trying to stop more trees being cut down. Someone involved in Reclaim the Power one of the signatories to the Open Letter Petition initiated by RAPAR says:
‘This pandemic has shown us that business as usual has to change, but the state is pushing ahead with this expensive destruction of ancient woodlands instead of putting all available resources into healthcare and support for those affected. Tree and land occupations already take a stand for human health; as protecting natural spaces gives us cleaner air, and less extreme weather like floods. Evicting environmental protestors at a time of coronavirus and climate crisis means impacts on human health now and in the near future. To protect all of our health - evictions must stop!'
Just this morning, RAPAR was sent this update where activists claim police are citing "the need for social distancing" to justify blocking news outlets filming the HS2 site.
And, if that wasn't enough...
3.… Homeless people are still on the streets despite government calls to house all during pandemic. Debbie from Youth House, based in Greater Manchester Law Centre, has spoken with RAPAR (See previous work with our UK Citizen Homeless People here) about a collective of three non-commissioned agencies who feed the street homeless on Manchester City Centre’s streets.
Debbie says this week they have been telling her of incidents when Manchester City Council Officers threatened the people trying to feed the street homeless with Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO’s). On Thursday, Manchester City Council confirmed that there are in excess of 100 people still street homeless on the city centre streets. See recent Local TV coverage about our Public Health campaign to minimise viral transmission risk here.
And finally last, but most definitely not least, the Home Office is...
4. … Using UK tax payer’s money to pay the private companies that house refugees.
Correspondence sent on Wednesday from UNHCR to the British Red Cross and shared with RAPAR, sets out UNHCR's awareness of a lack of provision of cleaning products… they say that “many are experiencing anxiety over not being able to disinfect communal and personal, particularly given the difficulties in social distancing in shared accommodations and HMOs” and others “report that they are either unable to afford the level of cleaning products and hand soap needed to regularly disinfect the communal areas and to wash their hands…”. UNHCR also observes that information is not in the public domain about the sub-contracted companies who manage the day to day running of the accommodation for people-seeking asylum. Contractual obligations are outlined here.
A recent individual signatory to the open petition wrote to RAPAR saying “I support this petition...it's the truth". Another new signatory, Baobab Women's Project in Birmingham told us they signed because "Human rights should apply equally to all, and this is especially important in times of crisis. We all should have equal access to resources in order to stay healthy. It is the same blood in our veins, we are human not numbers."