Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Mears and Brighton and Hove City Council: A Relationship 'Molded' by Public Money

I've been sent this quite astonishing video by a reader which is worthy of attention and dissemination. You could be forgiven for thinking that maybe this council accommodation could do with some work. Maybe a spot of restoration and the removal of black mold that caused the children living in this accommodation to develop respiratory problems? Well, you'd be right, but the really astonishing thing about this video is not just the appalling conditions of the accommodation but that it was taken by the mother of a woman with 4 children after Mears Group plc had completed their 'work' on the council property.

The family, a mother with her four children in this two bedroom accommodation were moved out of the Hangleton property after repeated complaints by the family and extended family were made to the Council. To its great credit, The Argus newspaper also covered the story of the squalour of the property and their coverage of the shocking conditions of the accommodation may even have assisted the Council's response to the plight of the family.

The family were moved out of the property and placed in temporary accommodation elsewhere. They have expressed, already, the problems of having four children in a two room property, but were prepared to revisit the accommodation to view it after the Mears maintenance workers had done their work in renovating the property.

In the presence of a Council housing manager and a Mears surveyor, the family were shown the accommodation after the work had been done on it. Having watched the video and seen other pictures of the property, my personal assessment is that the black mold that caused respiratory problems to both adults and children in the property requires some more work. Perhaps Mears Group workers and council housing reps can see something we cannot. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is fine, of course, when you're not the one passing through the eye of a needle.

It suffices to say that this shocking video of the neglect of the Mears company of Council property - a neglect for which Mears are in receipt of around £2million of public money every month - might be a source of embarrassment for both the company themselves and the Council which reward them so handsomely for their 'services'. Maybe Mears, a company which, as we know, was floated on the stock exchange in 2005, don't believe tenants - children and adults - are 'worthy' of accommodation better than this. Maybe they are banking on the rest of the public in Brighton, in Hove and beyond to agree with them.

Perhaps they are banking on everyone in Brighton and others beyond being as heartless as they are. Of course, the ones doing the real banking are the shareholders. I wonder what they would make of this video? Companies which lose reputations have been known to lose some shareholders. Wouldn't it be a shame if Mears lost some of theirs? But hey, that's the world of 'risk' capital and surely, surely someone at Mears Group must know that by leaving residents in Brighton and Hove in such squalour there would always come with it a measure of risk that they might one day get found out.

Gradually, slowly, I hope and I pray that more and more people wi#ll come forward to expose the risks Mears have taken not just with their own reputation as a company in receipt of such vast amounts of public money, but also with the health, safety and well being of adults and children in Brighton...and, most likely, beyond.

You might think that this article couldn't get any more absurd. But you'd be wrong. The Council housing manager, Mr Graham Page, has told the mother of four children that this is the property that they should 'make arrangements to return to' after she has viewed it on the 14th of May and that he would be 'dropping the keys back to her on Wednesday'. Not surprisingly, the mother and her children remain in temporary housing and at this time and, as things stand, refuse to return to the property. Can you blame them?

Monday, 14 May 2012

New Steine Mews: Update

I've just heard from Mr Evans that New Steine Mews refused Jason his clothes from his room two days ago because of what I wrote on my blog.

I believe Jason because Jason didn't know I'd written anything on my blog therefore I don't require the 'other side to the story'.

New Steine Mews, however, did know because I sent them links to both of my blogs.

So, they make a man homeless, evict him with none of his possessions. Then, after he's been out in the rain for a few days and he needs his clothes, he goes back to see them to get them and he's told that he cannot have them because someone has written something unpleasant about the near total lack of compassion or empathy the staff there have with the homeless.

If you would like to make known your views on this, feel free to contact the staff at New Steine Mews at:

...and let your views be known.

Look, I know that Jason can be 'hard work' but talk about kicking a man when he's down. But hey, that's my fault for exercising free speech, isn't it? I guess that's why Our Lord told His disciples to clothe the naked. He knew the State wouldn't think to do it. They can consider it war, then. There must be a way for all of Brighton to know of their wicked treatment of the poor. I'll have a think. Still, its heartening to know that its not just the homeless that the State has it in for, but the disabled as well. Oh, and the elderly. And the unborn.

As someone has kindly commented, out in the world for those to whom law applies, what has taken place is theft. For those consider themselves above the law of both God and man, what has taken place is just revenge because if you're poor, or homeless or without power or status in this World, your rights mean nothing.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Cruel Hypocrisy of Brighton Hostel Workers

Jason two years ago...
Just recently I have been struck by the indifference and hypocrisy of some of the hostel workers in Brighton. In particular, New Steine Mews appears to be quite a case in point.

Jason Evans, now homeless once more in Brighton has some pretty stinging words to say about his experiences resulting in his eviction from New Steine Mews, the 'Place of Change' in Brighton.

According to Jason, the reason for his eviction is as follows:

Jason was in the reception talking with one of the staff members of the hostel. For some reason or another, the particular staff member is alleged to have called Jason an 'Arabic bastard'. Not being one to always turn the cheek, Jason, in response, called the staff member a 'Spanish bastard' in return. Jason maintains that later in the evening the two men shook hands and were able to overcome whatever mild altercation they had had earlier.

'Big deal', you might be thinking and I'd agree with you. But it is a big deal to New Steine Mews and it is now a bigger deal to Jason because he's sleeping out in the pretty awful damp and rain of May, the month, incidentally, of Mary the Queen of Heaven. Having shook hands with the staff member and patched things up, Jason was informed the next day that he was to be evicted. He claims that he wasn't given an actual reason for his eviction - he just assumes that the above story is the reason.

New Steine Mews workers, for homeless hostel workers, appear to lack any compassion or heart in their dealings with the homeless. Jason was evicted without being able to collect any of his belongings. He now stands around in the rain with all that he has, which is the clothes that he stands in. He isn't allowed back on site to collect any of his belongings - a coat - or any blankets or bedding. He has no sleeping bag. He didn't like New Steine Mews. In fact, I am yet to meet anyone who has anything good to say about the 'Place of Change', but, that said, it was a roof over his head.

It is about time that more people in Brighton realised that homeless hostels like New Steine Mews are one of the primary reasons why homelessness perpetuates itself in Brighton. The homeless, in the eyes of the Council and of their hostels have no actual rights. If they are deemed to have 'overstepped the mark' in any way, they are slung into the street in whatever they are wearing.  The homeless aren't cared for - in fact - it is almost as if they are merely exploited by the hostels system so that local government agencies or private agencies can reap a whirlwind of housing benefit payments.

Jason's keyworker, a woman called Dawn, expressed shock that Jason had been made homeless again, having noted how 'well he was doing' in his behaviour and in meeting various appointments that Jason had to attend. For me, what is shocking about Jason's treatment is the total lack of regard that the Council - and its workers - has for Jason's human rights - the right to shelter and the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Of course, these ideals may not be held up for Jason, but we know that just as in Animal Farm, 'some people are more equal than others'.

Take, for instance, one resident of New Steine Mews, a transgender man who dresses like a lady. He still has his essentials, so I am told, but I am informed that this person, who biologically speaking, is still a man, lives on the women's block of New Steine Mews. His rights appear to be greatly respected. So respected, in fact, that I am informed that his behaviour, which is regularly abusive and threatening is overlooked just as frequently. I was told that the individual recently threw his crutches at a member of staff at reception. This is, I think you would agree, an act of violence against a member of staff - not something Jason has been accused of - and yet his treatment by New Steine Mews seems to be rather more protective and understanding than is Jason's. It seems to me that all Jason has to do is say the wrong thing at the wrong time - this time under provocation by a member of staff - and he is told to sling his hook and sleep in the cold and rain.

The hypocrisy of New Steine Mews is cynical and double-edged. Firstly, the staff don't care what happens to those who walk through the door or those who they sling out of it. Their actions, their prejudice and their neglect of those in their care makes an absolute mockery of their supposed objective of creating a 'place of change' or of protection for those vulnerable homeless adults in their care. Secondly, from what I've been told, the staff treat different homeless residents differently and according to different criteria, so that some are protected in the name of 'equality', but there is no 'equality' of treatment for their residents. I guess its just an LGBT thing. Indeed, 'some are more equal than others'.

If anyone reading this wants to buy Jason a sleeping bag, then email me as I personally don't have much money at the moment. It's soaking wet outside but New Steine Mews don't appear to care too much about Jason's fate.

'‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

I'll leave New Steine and the Council to look at that quote in case they don't know its author. New Steine Mews seem quite adept at trying to sort out the 'sheep from the goats' at their hostel. We who believe in true Justice - rather than the reckless kind of arbitrary justice distributed by mankind - know that in the End, the scales of Justice will fall in favour of the poor, the weak, the discarded and abandoned in this World and against those who oppressed them. Ultimately, no human law, bar those of the human rights court in Europe can ensure that Jason is treated humanely and with dignity. It really is a matter of human conscience and at New Steine Mews, conscience is not the order of the day. No. At New Steine Mews, the order of the day is Equality...for some, but not for others.

And here's a funny thing about New Steine Mews. They don't actually like it when someone tells the truth in public about their hostel. They get worried. The last time I wrote about Jason's eviction from New Steine Mews on The Eye of a Needle, I sent an email to them with the link. They read and not a week went by before Jason had been strangely rehoused with them. I don't claim any credit for that - I put that down to an answer to prayer from God thanks to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. On his eviction, Jason asked a member of staff for my telephone number as I am Jason's 'next of kin'. Jason doesn't have family. He has friends. The staff member refused to give it to him because 'he (that is I) wrote nasty things about us'. So a staff member wouldn't give Jason my number even though Jason had asked the staff member to keep it as a next of kin number should anything bad befall Jason. This is Jason's 'data' and the staff won't give it to him! Why? Because I might publish something nasty about New Steine Mews?!

Well, it looks like that decision didn't work out too well now, did it? The way you treat the homeless is abysmal - a scandal - and those that I know who live or have lived at New Steine Mews tell me on a regular basis. Few residents respect you because it is obvious you don't respect them.