Ten years ago today I created the 91st post for Greenford 365. To mark the blog’s anniversary I will attempt to post a photo every day throughout 2022.
I had doubts about posting this image because it means that I have crossed a line. This subway is someone’s home and by sharing that information I am exposing them to attention they may not want. In the end I felt that enough people walk past the tent that is often in it for it not to be a secret, and the fact that many more drive over it and past it without knowing it is the greater problem.
You may pass a doorway stuffed with what looks like grubby bedding in Greenford Broadway on your way to work or school, or see large pieces of cardboard with “PLEASE LEAVE” scrawled on them and wonder what that’s about. And then forget. To those in the know they are evidence that there are rough sleepers in the area. Around three years ago I became aware of young people in their late teens and twenties begging for money or a top up of an Oystercard in Greenford. A girl told me that she had tried to spend the night in the lobby of a block of flats but was turned out on a bitterly cold night. A young man accepted some money and said that he was waiting for a space to be made available for him in a hostel. There are also migrant workers who work in the black economy and prefer to sofa surf or sleep in open spaces. The word “homeless” can describe a wide range of situations.
In many cases, especially those who have been without accommodation for a short time, the “Home First” approach can be successful, bringing the client into a rented home and ensuring that they have all the benefits they are entitled to with support to help them into work. If anything good can be said for all the new developments in the borough it is that there is some provision in these cases. However there will always be someone who cannot cope with a transition into conventional life, whose poor mental health has made it impossible to do so. They are vulnerable to assaults and illness and are more likely to die while homeless.
If you stand in this position during the day you can see the top of one of Greenford’s newest tower blocks.
Images and text ©Albertina McNeill 2022. Please do not reproduce without permission. All rights reserved. Do not add any of these images to Pinterest or similar sites as this will be regarded as a violation of copyright.