It’s like Oliver Twist up in here…

Howick Place, Victoria, London

Howick Place, Victoria, London - The Battleground.

O.K. let’s start simple, because this is a story with as many characters as War and Peace, and about as interesting, although a lot shorter, thankfully… but:

If you have the slightest humanity to care if the giving of food by one freeborn human to another is OUTLAWED under the guise of “caring for the homeless” – you will read onwards.

The Characters – The Goodies

the following people either by voluntary or paid impetus are seeking to introduce a bylaw (smacked down by public opposition back in 2007) that would make illegal soup runs and food handouts inside Westminster council’s boundaries – or subject to a £2000 fine for each person (homeless or otherwise) served…

Ruth Duston Chief Exec of Victoria BID | Scott Nixon Bid Manager of Victoria BID | Simon Reason Business Crim Reduction Officer of Victoria BID |Inspector Martin Rees – Safer Streets Homeless unit | Inspector Ian Hicks – Metropolitan Police | Karl Rogers – Metropolitan Police | Adam Roche – Metropolitan Police | Ian Russell – Westminster City Council | Janet Haddington Manager, Rough Sleeping and Street Activity – Westminster City Council | Nicola Harper (Chair of BID) AND (Manager at Victoria JD Wetherspoon) | Liane Hartley – Capita Symonds (Cause if Capita ain’t coming it ain’t a party eh? AmIrite?) | Roger Clark – The Passage | Ian Benson – Buckingham Gate Neighbourhood Watch | Hannah Hunter – St Mungos | Andy Gibbs – Victoria Coach Station | Andy Freeman – Resident | Finn Dombernowsky – Phillips de Pury & Company | Alessandro Cajrati – Phillips de Pury & Company | Sandra – House of Fraser | Mary Newton – Look Ahead Housing | Steve Guyon – Communities and Local Government (didn’t attend- public service init?) | Oki Efobi – Safer Streets Homeless unit (didn’t attend – probably too busy housing people?)

Basically 4 people from BID itself, 5 Coppers, 4 ‘public servants’ (2 of which didn’t turn up-natch), 6 private company representatives and 3 charity wallahs

Have decided… in their democratic wisdom…

No Food For You

The Characters – The Baddies

Poor people who visit soup runs & The Soup Run Providers

The Story Itself

One of the few ‘perks’ of being homeless in London is free food. Sure you may queue up for ages for it. Sure you may not like what you get. Sure you may feel demeaned and more desperate after eating it than before, sure it may not even turn up… but at least as they say:

“no-one goes hungry in London.”

Yet let me tell you – that fact – is not down to Westminster council. It is not down to any multi-million pound charity. It is not down to Victoria Business in Development or whatever they call themselves.

It’s down to decent businesses with real concern for humanity – and decent people with similar concern, NOT attending meetings, NOT publishing ‘tweets’, articles, blogs, press releases etc.

People who DO. Not people who TALK about DOING. Good People now being cast as the bad – thanks to the aforementioned people and others.

Those people who go out and get leftover food, move it to a known place like Howick Place in Victoria, Temple, or Agar St off the Strand and make sure it gets distributed to as many people as possible.

It is down to these people that it can be said: “No-one goes hungry in London”. Even though – that isn’t really true.

These people get NO SUPPORT.
They get BBC articles questioning their motives and use.
They get highfalutin research smacked in their faces from the LSE and those who wasted good charitable donations on ‘Research’.
They get condescended to by the do-gooding centrally funded government best friends charity crowd.

Next up for these people, the baddies, the ‘soup run users’, the ‘soup run providers’ and the next Oliver Twist dwelling in this Divine Comedy we call London?

Police Harassment – concocted and agreed by a board of less than twenty people – for all the ‘Baddies’ in our little story. According to Victoria BID – the following options will be used against soup runs and others planning to keep on serving the people who need food passing through or staying in Victoria.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s the evidence. Straight from the minutes of this nefarious group’s meeting.

Ian Hicks (IH) stated that a multi agency approach will be taken where possible to deliver an effective service and where legal possibilities exist, his Officers will use them to best effect.

  • Littering
  • S.27 Alcohol dispersals
  • Group dispersal order
  • Public Order offences
  • Begging
  • Obstruction of the Highway (Lying over the pavement to cause an obstruction)
  • illegal parking of the Soup vans

IH agreed that pressure should be employed to influence change at Government level.

Where necessary, the safer Streets Homeless Unit and Safer Neighbourhood Business Team could share resources to ensure maximum impact.

It was raised that the Mayor of London’s commitment to zero rough sleeping by December 2012 should be capitalized on and support gained.

Dr Evil is ConfusedThe Moral of the Story

Evil doesn’t always come packaged in a dark cape and a snarl. You can’t always recognise it even when it’s talking to you. I am not a Christian, but Jesus was never more right than when saying: ‘by their fruit shall you know them’.

I don’t want to live in a world when a couple of business shirts, some charity bods, a Mayor, and a few ‘public servants’ oh and a pub landlady and some coppers can dictate whether it is or is not illegal to give and receive food. Yet that is the world we would live in were it not for us to oppose these insects that purport to represent us and ‘care’ about us at each and every turn.

From the Business leaders who never get their noses out of Government and profit by their involvement – Community leaders persay on various boards of ‘worthy’ orgs, who by sheer luck alone run a web-design firm that, lo! Does the websites for the same ‘worthy’ orgs.

To Policemen more concerned with image management and ‘liaising’ rather than “protecting the children of the poor and punishing the wrongdoer.”

To ‘Public Servants’ charged with helping those people so poor they NEED a soup run to SURVIVE – those nincompoops who think you can push the poverty, the desperation, the depression of spirit they have caused with their taxes, their charges, their rents... just out the way…just far enough… into the next ‘public servants’ jurisdiction.

They think they can just ban its food source and it will go away and the uproarious international gang bang loosely based around sport known as the Olympics can go off lacking not only terrorism, but also the sheer shock horror or any given Olympic tourist seeing some over bearded homeless guy eating a sandwich in the street THAT THEY DIDN’T PAY FOR.

OH. MY. GOD. How will Britain’s Image Survive!?!?!?

A big disappointment is in store for these people.

The Bottom LineThe Bottom Line

Don’t these people have anything better to do?

They do, but they ain’t ever done it before, so why start now?

Nearly Ten years ago – they wanted to fine homeless people £500 – for bedding down in Westminster. They got told to ‘go do one’ then. They’ll get told to ‘go do one’ again.

Now they want two bites at the Cherry for illegitimately the (very environmental) sharing of leftover food. Something that – the companies that give, the volunteers that distribute, and the people in need who receive it – all – have no problems with.

No large Homeless organisation has the nuts to stand up and say NO to this. Hundreds of small volunteer led organisations will suffer, but you won’t hear their pleas on the BBC, or the Guardian, or the Free Papers.

They need your support to keep on doing what they do and they need your support to ensure they can still do it – unmolested by the police or the officers of Westminster council.

London is the capital of the British. If they ever succeed in making the sharing of food illegal – we will have taken the last political u-bend towards a fascist state. A state when the council has more interest in where the food that’s going in your mouth comes from, rather than the concern, that you have enough food to put in your mouth in the first place.

When that moment comes. I will enter lawful rebellion against the State. Because a state that stops people sharing food under the guise of ‘helping the homeless’ – is no longer a state that I can be a part of.

Jon Cairns

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7 Responses to It’s like Oliver Twist up in here…

  1. calneeagle says:

    A brilliantly written polemic.

  2. What a timely well written article…

    From todays news:
    Woman accused of theft after taking Tesco rubbish
    A woman is facing trial for “theft by finding” after she helped herself to food thrown away by Tesco after a power cut

    Dozens of people could not believe their luck after the supermarket giant put bagged up thousands of pounds of spoiled stock and left it out in the street.
    Sasha Hall, 21, helped herself to potato waffles, pies and ham from the store in Great Baddow, Essex.
    But she was left stunned after police arrived at her home and arrested her or “theft by finding” and took her to the station in handcuffs.

    She said: “There was £3,000 worth of food going to waste on the street.

    “It had been thrown out, so I thought I could put it to better use. But when the police came round I was so upset. I felt like a terrible criminal.”

    The shop worker said the supermarket – which has the motto “Every little helps” – should have been pleased that the food would be put to good use.

    She said: “I would think the police have better things to be doing with their time than going after people who pick up potato waffles from the street. It’s all been blown totally out of proportion.
    “Tesco clearly did not want the food. They dumped it and rather than see it go to waste, I thought I could help feed me and my family for a week or two.”


  3. Keti says:

    I give soup to homeless people. I make it myself with fresh vegetables and love and give it to them. I would be horrified if it became illegal for me to offer soup to a hungry person (and I would break the law and do it anyway).

    I read the BBC article and it seemed to me a fair & balanced account. The writer reports that some people (eg John Bird, Westminster council) are questioning the motives of people who help the homeless. S/he also reports that some others (eg Gary, Ken Livingstone) are in support of soup runs. The writer doesn’t appear to support one or the other or pass comment, except to say that it’s surprising that Wesmister council appears to be supported by some homeless charities and former rough sleepers.

    Anyway I hope this doesn’t come into law and make me a criminal.

  4. Criminals break natural law, Good people oppose and break unjust laws. I don’t find it surprising some big charities support Westminster Council as they have a lot of money and clout and it’s a case of the piper calling the tune, and decent people in these organisations thinking they can flatter the devil and be burned last. Regardless of Labour or Conservative the shitstem of homelessness is getting more inhuman towards 2012. Not more humane and efficient as we were promised. Thanks for your comments Keti


  5. Rose Thompson says:

    It is a sad day for humanity, when giving kind people can’t feed those that need help. In fact, that should be the day the world should stop spinning. We as humans have now right to be hear if we don’t help each other out.

  6. 100% Solidarity with world homeless day! We must continue fighting unrelentingly to realise a society in which humanity, business and capital is organised and placed at the service of our fellow brothers and sisters and all humanity.

    It is an utter disgrace that people are abandoned by so-called ‘society’ to hunger and death while all the rats in banking and the city, and elsewhere horde the abundance of the earth which belongs to us all in obscene quantities.

    It is time to rise up and make our demands not only felt by these scum but we must ensure that our demands are met!

    Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign In Defence of Disabled Claimants
    The People UNITED can never be DEFEATED!

  7. Thick as Turnips says:

    Fuck ’em. If they want food they will have to go in the bins like other homeless. Nothing wrong in it.

    Have a day off son.

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