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‘Homelessness does not discriminate’

By Lara Hassan Feb 13, 2023
Homeless man with his dogCredit: Nick Fewings/Unsplash

Walking through Kingston you will inevitably stroll past beds and blankets that have been intricately folded and placed under bus stops and bridges to avoid the rain.

When the sun sets people experiencing homelessness will gather up these bundles and seek shelter from the weather and the noise of Kingston in hopes of getting some sleep.

One of these people, perched under the bus stop with a cigarette in his mouth and a smile on his face, is Andre Gigel, a 28 year-old man from Romania affected by homelessness.

Beds under bus shelters by Eden Street, Kingston. Photo: Lara Hassan

“I came here hoping for work, something, anything,” he said.

Gigel has been in Kingston for four years and has been waiting on his settled status which can be applied for after living in the UK for five years and means he could stay and work in the UK.

“You think when you come to England life will be easier, but it’s not. England has many issues too,” Gigel said.

Homelessness in the UK is predicted to rise due to the cost of living crisis.

The homeless charity Crisis estimates 300,000 households could be forced into homelessness in 2023.

Homelessness in Kingston is already an issue.

Beds set up under a bridge
People from all walks of life may end up homeless. Credit: Lara Hassan

Kingston councillor Andreas Kirsch said: “In Kingston there are over 900 households living in temporary accommodation and 3,700 on our housing register for social housing.”

One organisation offering support for those who are struggling is the Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness (KCAH).

Their aims include helping people get into short term accommodation, equipping people to find long term housing and building peoples’ life skills to help them retain their accommodation.

Communications officer for KCAH, Sue Cole said: “All it takes is a collusion of a few unfortunate circumstances for someone to fall into rent or mortgage arrears and find themselves in crisis.”

She said homelessness comes in many forms and could affect anyone: “The bottom line is that homelessness does not discriminate.”

By Lara Hassan

Editor/Reporter Interests: Foreign correspondence, Middle Eastern matters, politics, fashion and sport.

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