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Almost Impossible to Give Food Away to Homeless People in London

Homeless Young People

I want to share an experience I had last week when a friend and I tried to give out food to the homeless in London. After a fantastic Mind Body Spirit Festival with amazing energy, and wonderful, kind and good spirited management team we were very impressed. And then something happened - the Olympia, London in house cafe was chucking out loads of food at the end of the show. They gave some to security but there was way more than the staff could handle - so some of our crew who were nearby handed it out to stall holders at the event - who had worked hard all weekend and were grateful for it.

We had 3 black bin bags full of salads, wraps, sarnies, breakfast granola etc that was on its sell by date and was due to go out in the trash. Myself and a friend pounced on it to give away to the homeless en route back to Hackney.  We scoured Hackney for people to give it to.  All the places I remembered growing up and seeing them there, and they were nowhere to be seen - it was weird.  False.  Everyone had been swept off the streets.  There were one or two people by cashpoints but the rest had been moved on.  It took us literally hours to find anyone. I started asking people directly in the street if they knew where everyone had gone. Most did not.  

When we asked local residents where the homeless people had gone they were saying:  

"They are not out on the streets because it's cold."

My response was

"Where have they gone? Home??!!"  

In a last ditch attempt to find somewhere we wandered into the site of a deserted Ridley Road Market in Dalston, where during the day you will find some of the best pound for a pound value on market food anywhere in London town.  This used to be a sure fire spot to find crowds of people on the streets hanging out together. It was barren, no one to be seen, until we saw a couple of women and approached them.  They were suspicious of us at first, as to be expected as this situation doesn't come around that often I guess.  We may have also felt a bit of apprehension as earlier in Vortex square we had been chatting to people playing drafts on a makeshift board on one of the benches, and one of the ladies had got defensive.  She accused me of having lobster in my fridge when she asked for a bag with the food we were offering and I said I sorry I was not a shop.  Sometimes my humour gets misunderstood.  

So we approached these girls and got chatting, and after a bit they decided we were alright and told us that one of them was from a local shelter.  So we went there with them - no sign posts - nada.  If I had been on the streets, there is no way I would have known it was there if I was not from the area. We went inside with our offering - and the guy on reception told us to go away and that he couldn't accept it because he might get sued!  I couldn't believe it!  Luckily the girls we came in with offered to distribute it to their mates in the shelter - so we gave it to them to share out.  We actually had to defy the homeless shelter itself in order to get the food to the homeless people they were sheltering! I was flabbergasted.  But with a little determination, collaboration and defiance and perfectly good food turned from waste into valuable fuel where it counted.

Our societal issues are being pushed underground. Do not believe they are being relieved.  Do not believe that the homeless have just moved off the streets at night because our Big Society has housed them all.   

Its all PR. We have to dig to find the truth now. And it will get worse in the years to follow in England. 

It makes me think of this quote that greatly inspires me, that my Mum has on her fridge:

Yoga for Homeless Young People"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." 

Margaret Mead

Let us create the world we want to live in, together, one step at a time. Time to assert our boundaries and stand up for our values.

We need to be active.  

Donate to our Yoga for Homeless Young People Project here:  http://www.gofundme.com/yogaforhomelessyps

and find out more on our blog about the project - in collaboration with the Clocktower Sanctuary.