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Dean: Homeless for five years, he has cerebral palsy and is a living symbol of what is wrong with the system in the UK today. The government won’t help him. Charities won’t help him. Will you?
Last night (January 30), Vox Political had reason to thank its readers on Facebook after that page’s weekly reach topped one million readers – that’s a lot of people. Now it’s time to see if we can all achieve something together.
This site was contacted yesterday by a reader who wanted to highlight the plight of Dean. He’s a 25-year-old man who has cerebral palsy and – here’s where the system has failed him – is homeless.
She wrote: “The week before Christmas, my Mum, myself and twin 10 year old nephew and niece, took Christmas presents around the Charring Cross area to give to the homeless.
“It was while doing this that we came across a young homeless man, and while no one should be homeless in this day and age, as the kids gave him his present it became clear that something was very, very wrong. He could barely speak, the thin red top he was wearing was covered in stains, he was sitting all by himself with a sleeping bag that someone must have given him at some point.
“He wasn’t interested in the present at all, just kept hand signalling that he was hungry and my Mum went straight to buy him some extra food and drinks from the little kiosk that was close by while the kids helped him to open the parcel so that he could at least start with the chocolate bar inside. He had trouble opening it, as well as the drink so we loosened the cap for him and put all his things together in a bag and stayed trying to talk to him, trying to find out if he was lost but the only answers he was giving to anything was ‘no…’
“This guy should not ever have been on the streets and we were truly worried that he wasn’t going to survive [bolding mine].”
It turned out that his name was Dean and he had cerebral palsy – and really should not be on the streets. But he had been there for five years because, as another concerned person (who had taken him to a street kitchen) explained, none of the homelessness charities would help.
Shortly after that, our correspondent’s mother found a picture of Dean on the campaigning site IndieGoGo. It seems that another person, Vanessa Threadgold, had set up the page as a fundraiser to keep Dean off the streets, and had also found a legal aid solicitor to take on Dean’s case and get him the help he should have had all along.
“Watch this video and you will see for yourself why I am so incredibly angered by our not failing, but failed system, and if anyone can contribute to help Dean in any way possible… you will not only be helping Dean himself, but also to highlight how this treatment of the most vulnerable just simply cannot be allowed to continue any longer,” wrote our original correspondent. “It is the most appalling sign of the times.”
Here’s the video:
The IndieGoGo site adds the following: “Dean will eventually be supported and funded by the the government which is exactly what we pay our taxes for.. To help genuinely vulnerable people. However it will still take a few months to get something into place.
“We are hoping to get a short term let that is suitable for Dean’s needs and then we will be able to slowly introduce him into his own place with around the clock support. This will be the quickest way for his housing and care to be sorted and it means no government funding will be available until he has been assessed by the last council whose care he was under.
“There are huge flaws in homelessness laws. These are even more evident in situations like Dean’s. He should never have been on the street in the first instance, let alone have to wait now that he is having help to get into a home.”
The IndieGoGo appeal metre shows that it has passed its target, but it seems likely that this is because the target was set too low. More is needed.
If all of the one million people reached by the Vox Political Facebook page contributed a little towards the IndieGoGo appeal, Dean would be set up for life – but we know that’s not going to happen; not everybody who reads these stories actually does anything about them.
This writer knows there are plenty of you, reading this, who are willing to help, and who will contribute. If just one per cent of the one million people who read VP material on Facebook contributed, Dean would have support – hopefully – for as long as it takes to get him off the streets forever.
I’m sick and tired of writing stories about people who have lost their lives because the authorities who should have helped, using public money – our money – couldn’t be bothered.
I’d like to see if Vox Political can help make a difference – even if only to one life – and shame the government – local and national – and the charities, who should be carrying out this work in our name.
I can put a fiver to that cause quite happily. Will you help, too?
Falling on deaf ears: The chorus of protest against the bedroom tax is unlikely to be heard at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, where delegates will be discussing how to bribe the electorate into supporting them in 2015. [Picture: Matthew Pover in the Sunday People]
Does David Cameron have any new policies that are big enough to silence the rising clamour of discontent against him?
He’ll need something big – Coalition partners the Liberal Democrats managed only a tax on plastic bags (an idea stolen from the Labour Welsh government) and a few weak cries of “Please let us stay in government after 2015”.
He has set aside £700 million for the scheme, which is more than the government would have spent if it had not imposed the bedroom tax.
A brand-new ComRes poll is showing that 60 per cent of voters agree with Labour’s plan to abolish the bedroom tax – which hits 660,000 households. And one in five Liberal Democrats could vote Labour in protest at the tax.
The issue has prompted shadow Work and Pensions secretary Liam Byrne to say something with which this blog can actually – for once – agree! He said: “It is the worst possible combination of incompetence and cruelty, a mean-spirited shambles. It’s got to go.”
He added that the bedroom tax was likely to cost more than it saved – a point made by this blog many months ago.
Another hopelessly unpopular Tory policy to come from Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions has been the work capability assessment for sick and disabled claimants of Employment and Support Allowance. It seems one of the first things the Tories did was alter this test so that it became almost impossible to accumulate enough points to be found in need of the benefit.
The result has been three years of carnage behind closed doors, where people with serious conditions have been forced into destitution that has either caused their death by worsening their condition, or caused the kind of mental health problems that lead to suicide. Thousands – perhaps tens of thousands – have died.
The Very Reverend Dr David Ison, who presided over Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, signed a campaign letter entitled ‘The Downing Street Demand’, which claims Government policies force some of the most deprived members of society to “shoulder the heaviest burden of national debt created by the super-rich”.
Some might say this is typical of broad Conservative policy: Taking from the poor to give to the rich.
The harshness of such a policy, as outlined in the letter, is appalling: “In 2010 you said, ‘I’m going to make sure no-one is left behind; that we protect the poorest and most vulnerable in our society’.
“The reality of the austerity programme is the opposite.
“Since your Government came to power, cuts have meant that disabled people are paying back nine times more than non-disabled people and those with the highest support needs are paying back nineteen times more.”
Dr Ison said: “It’s right to stand in solidarity with people from many different organisations to draw attention to the needs of some of the most deprived members of our society.
“Many disabled people feel desperate facing possible cuts in support, the bedroom tax, and in particular an inflexible and failing Work Capability Assessment scheme which can blight and even cut short their lives.
“The Government needs to respond by enabling disabled people to live with dignity and security.”
Against this background, what is Cameron doing to make his party more attractive?
He’s bringing forward the second phase of his government’s Help to Buy scheme, that helps people in England to get 95 per cent mortgages on properties worth up to £600,000 – a scheme that has been widely criticised for setting up another debt-related housing bubble.
But the BBC reported that, during September, house prices rose at their fastest rate in more than six years – and a report from Nationwide Building Society showed the rise was “increasingly broad-based”.
Adam Marshall, of the British Chambers of Commerce (which is normally supportive to the Conservatives), said: “With all the concern expressed about Help to Buy – rushing into it seems less than responsible on part of government.”
It is, therefore, under a barrage of scorn that the Conservative conference begins today. How is Cameron planning to rally his troops?
He wants the country to believe that “We have had to make very difficult decisions… These difficult decisions are beginning to pay off and the country’s coming through it.”
Even here, the evidence is against him. George Osborne’s economic theory was based on a very silly spreadsheet error, as was proved several months ago by an American student. Attempts by this blog to ascertain whether he had anything more solid on which to base his policy proved fruitless – all the evidence he provided was underpinned by the same discredited document.
No – we can all see what George Osborne’s policies did to the British economy: They stalled it.
We spent three years bumping along the bottom with no growth worth mentioning, which Osborne, Cameron and their cronies used as an excuse to impose policies that have hammered those of us on the lowest incomes while protecting the rich corporate bosses, bankers and hedge fund investors who caused the economic crash.
Now, it seems more likely that the economy is picking up because it was always likely to. Commerce is cyclical and, when conditions merit it, business will pick up after a slump. That is what is happening now, and this is why growth figures are “stronger than expected”.
It has nothing to do with Conservative economic policies at all.
That won’t stop Cameron trying to capitalise on it. Ever the opportunist, he is already trying to pretend that this was the plan all along, and it just took a little longer than expected. We would all be fools to believe him.
And he has rushed to attack Labour plans for economic revival, claiming these would involve “crazy plans to tax business out of existence”.
In fact, Labour’s plans will close tax avoidance loopholes that have allowed businesses to avoid paying their due to the Treasury.
Besides, Conservative policy – to reduce Corporation Tax massively – has been proved to do nothing to make the UK more attractive for multinational businesses; the USA kept its taxes high and has not lost any of its own corporate taxpayers.
That country, along with Germany, adopted a policy of investment alongside a tighter tax regime and has reaped the benefits with much greater growth than the UK, which has suffered from a lack of investment and a tax policy full of holes (because it is written by the architects of the biggest tax avoidance schemes).
So what’s left?
Historically, at this time in the electoral cycle, Tory policy is to offer Middle Britain a massive bribe.
If they try it now, they’ll risk wiping out any savings they might have made over the last three years, rendering this entire Parliament pointless.
This blog stated last week that the Tories seem to want to rewrite an old saying to include the line: “You can fool most of the people, enough of the time.”
We know that millions of people were fooled by them at the last election.
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