"Homelessness is not a lifestyle choice" says Chichester charity Stonepillow

Chichester homelessness charity Stonepillow has said that homelessness is not a lifestyle choice, following the Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s comments last weekend.
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Defending plans to crack down on tents in urban areas, Braverman wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that sleeping rough is a “lifestyle choice” and many of those on British streets are from other countries.

“The British people are compassionate. We will always support those who are genuinely homeless,” she said. “But we cannot allow our streets to be taken over by rows of tents occupied by people, many of them from abroad, living on the streets as a lifestyle choice.”

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“Unless we step in now to stop this, British cities will go the way of places in the US like San Francisco and Los Angeles, where weak policies have led to an explosion of crime, drug-taking, and squalor.

Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images.Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images.
Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images.

“Nobody in Britain should be living in a tent on our streets. There are options for people who don’t want to be sleeping rough, and the government is working with local authorities to strengthen wraparound support including treatment for those with drug and alcohol addiction.

“What I want to stop, and what the law-abiding majority wants us to stop, is those who cause nuisance and distress to other people by pitching tents in public spaces, aggressively begging, stealing, taking drugs, littering, and blighting our communities.”

Following her comments, Chichester-based homelessness charity Stonepillow has issued a statement in support of Britain’s homeless community.

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"It’s absurd to suggest that this is down to “lifestyle choices” or that the answer is a “crackdown” on people sleeping rough and the charities that support them,” a spokesperson said. “No one should be sleeping rough in a tent in our country.”

Rather than Braverman’s “crackdown”, Stonepillow, alongside several other homelessness charities have called for action to be taken on the factors which manufacture homelessness. The charity said the government should instead look to regulate the private housing centre to keep rents affordable, invest in social housing over a long-term period and increase local housing allowance to reflect local rent levels.

"We call upon our community to challenge this divisive rhetoric and choose the compassion in action which is realised every day through our staff, volunteers and supporters,” they finally said.