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.


1 comment:

  1. I'd like to know how Jason is doing. I used to live round Brighton are. I moved away because I was unsafe, being stalked etc. I turned to a hostel in Devon. They promised me one in Exmouth then took it away. Ironically the staff member that put the poison down was from Brighton also.
    It was years ago, but I know all about hypocrisy in those places and a good portion of the bad experiences I endured would not have occurred had it not been for the spiteful actions of one hostel, warning others not to take me in when I had no criminal record, no illegal drug problems (I don't judge those that do as I can see why.) but they made it so the only option I had was to live in a home with heroin addicts and be treated like a criminal when I was supposed to be the victim.
    I just hope Jason has found somewhere. Know that someone out here is thinking of him.

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