No One Turned Away: Reasons to be cheerful?
After a successful couple of weeks for No One Turned Away, I can’t stop humming a 1979 hit from Ian Dury and the Blockheads. Fortunately, the song contains some words of wisdom for the next stage of the campaign.
The song’s lyrics were penned by Dury some 35 years before we launched No One Turned Away – our campaign for politicians to review the help single homeless people get under the law in England.
And whilst two campaigns for social justice (equal votes and anti-apartheid) are celebrated in the song, there’s unfortunately (for the purposes of this blog at least) no mention of the campaign that led to the historic 1977 Housing (Homeless Persons) Act. Maybe he just couldn’t make it rhyme.
Nevertheless, one of the song’s repetitive refrains is still reverberating around my head and it has inspired this blog. So here they are, my reasons to be cheerful – 1, 2, 3:
1. Our petition passed 45,000 signatures, making it our biggest ever.
We handed the petition in to Conservative Communities Minister Kris Hopkins MP, Labour Shadow Housing Minister Emma Reynolds MP and Liberal Democrat Communities Minister Stephen Williams MP.
2. We teamed up with Shelter, St Mungo’s Broadway, Centrepoint, Homeless Link and Housing Justice to call for a review.
Our open letter to party leaders called on the next government to review the help available to homeless people, whilst ensuring that current protections are maintained.
3. And following our campaigning the Liberal Democrats and Labour have unveiled plans to tackle homelessness.
The Lib Dems say their manifesto will contain a commitment for “a review of single homeless provision”, while Labour wants to “establish a review to develop a long-term strategy to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping”. Both plans were announced at our conference.
Admittedly more lyrical than mine, Dury’s list ends with him rapping: “Yes, yes, dear, dear, perhaps next year. Or maybe even, never”.
A committed campaigner on disability, polio and cancer before his death in 2000, Dury’s words serve as a (perhaps unintentional) reminder that statements of intent should only really be cheered if they are followed up with deeds.
To ensure No One Turned Away doesn’t end in similar style, we’ll need the help and support of MPs from every party in the next parliament.
That’s why we’re asking parliamentary candidates across England to pledge support for No One Turned Away – something we’ll be holding them to if / when they get elected. If you’d like to help, please go to our website and ask candidates in your constituency if they will support the campaign.