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Showing posts from February, 2010

The Right to Die in the Gutter

Last week Ian Austin, the Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Minister responsible for homelessness, came out on an evening shift with Thames Reach’s street outreach teams. Together we walked the dank streets of central London, Ian still in his suit and tie having raced over following a late night debate in the House. Even though he was only two miles from Westminster, he must have felt that he had entered a parallel universe. One of the tasks that evening was to seek out a former rough sleeper who is now in a wheel-chair after his prone body, hidden under cardboard and blankets, was run over one morning by a refuge truck, crushing both his ankles. Ian was appalled, shaking his head in horror. He listened attentively, asking thoughtful questions of the rough sleepers he met and the outreach workers sharing the evening with him. We liked him, and having accompanied dozens of politicians on street shifts over the years, I know that close