Statistics tell a story - but they never tell the whole story. In this case, we’re referring to figures revealing that 2,744 people were estimated to be sleeping rough in England on any one night in 2014. Say it quickly and it slips from the tongue easily enough. But imagine each of those individuals - some mother’s son or daughter, with a life behind them that might have been exactly like yours.
How many steps are there from normal life to destitution? Fewer than we might think.
Imagine having no place to call home, a place of safety and a place of permanence. While some find refuge in hostels or temporary accommodation, or even moving between friends’ houses, staying a couple of nights before moving on, others have the streets for a bed. Unimaginable for most of us. Charities such as Simon on the Streets provide the safety net when people fall, and the value of their work amongst the homeless of Leeds - usually unseen and all too often unacknowledged - cannot be underplayed.
We report to today how hundreds are expected to take part in Simon’s annual sponsored rough sleep next week. Of course one night in the open won’t even begin to help those of us with home comforts understand what it is like for those with no place to belong. But it gives focus to an issue that shames our society. Last year’s event raised £24,000. Let’s hope it makes even more this year. Charging makes bags of sense
Charging makes bags of sense
CONSUMERS are likely to be a taken aback by the Taxpayers’ Alliance assertion that introducing a 5p charge per plastic bag at shop checkouts will cost the country £1.5bn annually. But equally, they may reflect that since many people take their own re-usable bags with them these days, it’s a charge that can be neatly sidestepped and need cost the country far less. Discarded bags are a blight on the landscape, and removing them costs £60m a year. Shoppers in Scotland and Wales have already seen bag charges introduced, and there has been no murmur of protest. There is every reason to suppose that precisely the same thing will happen in England.