Homeless Rights at Last?
Last weekend The Brighton and Hove Housing Coalition launched The homeless bill of rights in in partnership with Housing Rights Watch, FEANTSA (European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless) and Just Fair .
Almost 100 people crammed into the Hanover Room at the Brighthelm Centre last Sunday 28th October 2018 in Brighton.
All three of our MP’s locally sent messages of support for the bill of rights, as did many other experts in the field including Dr Tim Worthley from Arch Healthcare.
David Thomas, the legal officer for Brighton and Hove Housing Coalition said of the launch event “We thought it was phenomenally successful and we managed to rally a lot of support for this launch.”
“There are no other cities in the UK that have adopted a proper bill of rights for the homeless and we want Brighton and Hove to be the shining example for good practice and helping the homeless for the rest of the UK.
“We want Brighton and Hove City Council to adopt this bill of rights so we are calling on support from trade unions, businesses and the public to help push this important cause.”
Lloyd Russell-Moyle said: “This bill is another important step to enforce, fight and win rights for those in our city. Well done to those involved.”
Human Rights are for the protection and the dignity of everyone, whatever their housing
situation. However, we all know that in practice people who have the misfortune to become homeless are far to often treated with contempt and disregard, including by public officials and services.
This Bill of Rights is intended as a reminder and challenge to everyone to treat our fellow citizens with respect and courtesy, and to do what we can to help those who are
in this desperate situation.
We call on Brighton and Hove City Council to adopt this Bill of Rights, which has been
developed by many homeless organisations across Europe, and to develop strategies and
policies to make these rights effective and real for homeless people in our city. A number of cities across Europe, including Barcelona, have adopted it; we hope that our city will
become the first British one to do so.
The Bill of Rights
The full text is attached. The words are not written in stone, and it may be amended and approved before it is finally (we hope) adopted by the city. In summary, the rights are these:
The Right to Housing
This is the first and most fundamental right, contained in human rights treaties to which the UK is a signatory, and the first commitment the Council must make is to work with the national government to end homelessness; but for the present that is only something we can work towards.
The Right to Shelter
While we work towards making the right to housing real, we must provide emergency
accommodation and shelter enough that no one has to sleep rough.
The Right to Use Public Space
The Right to Equal Treatment
The Right to a Postal address
The Right to Sanitary Facilities
The Right to Emergency Services
The Right to a Vote
The Right to Data Protection
The Right to Privacy
The Right to Survival Practices
While people remain actually homeless, they must survive as best as they can, and they
should not be criminalized for doing so. People should not be arrested for asking for help.
The Right to Respect for Personal Property
The belongings of a homeless person are entitled to the same respect and protection as
The Right to Life
It is so dangerous to life and health to be homeless that the average age of death is 43. Yet
we live in a country where no record is kept of the deaths of homeless people and their
deaths are rarely investigated. This right commits the Council to keeping a record of the
deaths of homeless people (including those in temporary and emergency accommodation) and to ensuring those deaths are adequately investigated.
We are inviting as many organizations and people as possible to attend the launch.
Following the launch, we shall be calling on all the political parties to commit to adopting
the Bill of Rights in their manifestos for next May’s elections, and we shall be inviting
everyone to sign up in support of the campaign.
After the launch on the 28th , we shall be trying to get all party support for the initiative. If the Council accepts the Bill of Rights, they will need to incorporate its principles into many of their policies and practices, and to work with other partner organizations to achieve its goals. Our organization, the Brighton & Hove Housing Coalition, will be campaigning to hold the Council to its promises, and in particular we envisage an annual audit in which we hope as many local organizations and campaigners as possible will participate, keeping the issues before the public eye and holding the public bodies involved to account.
FEANTSA* – Housing Rights Watch – Just Fair
*The European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless.
For further information contact Barry Hughes, 01273 882356 / 07946 040047