The Fight for Homeless Bill of Rights

The Fight For Homeless Bill of Rights

Introduction to Homeless Bill of Rights

[David Thomas Homeless Bill of Rights Speech]

I’m David Thomas as you’ve heard I’ve been quite a long time the legal officer
for Housing Coalition and I’m here to talk to you about or remind you in most cases of Homeless Bill of Rights.

So it’s been mentioned time and again throughout the day including in Dan’s initial video, many of you will have signed the petition which we put forward to to for the council to adopt the Homeless Bill of Rights.

The Purpose of Homeless Bill of Rights

What it is for those of you who don’t already know Homeless Bill of Rights is a European document put together by voluntary organisations working with homeless people as a charter for cities to adopt it starts with our International obligation which is to deliver a right to a home even though the Homeless Bill of Rights exists because we fail to make that real.

The Demand for Equal Treatment

It demands the right to shelter for all who want it so that no one is ever forced to sleep rough in our city it’s also got extreme extremely practical rights built into it like the right to proper Sanitation but above all it’s a demand for people without homes to be treated the same as the rest of us not as a problem to be sold but as people with rights and dignity a demand for a different way of seeing, talking about and acting with homeless people.

So if you’re not familiar with the document there is a link on the website which will provide you with other resources and tell you about the

The Role of Campaigns and Movements

The Coalition began a campaign to have this document adopted by this city with a launch in this building in October 2018. This conference for us honours two former chairs who have died since then.

Steve Perry chaired that launch and Barry Hughes spoke to the council in support of the petitionist which is Chaired by the executive director of Housing and it’s supposed to be the place where it oversees the operations of the council and its Partners in relation in field of homelessness.

The Importance of Practical Rights

First meeting was four months after the Bill of Rights was adopted and I’ve searched in the last few days through all the minutes and all the documents presented to it and all the agendas and there was one reference in all the meetings, it’s had so far for the Homeless Bill of Rights and I was in the first meeting which I happened to be present at where I asked how come there
was no reference to it in its terms of reference and Rachel sharp said “oh we can’t change those terms here” and that was it.

The Fight for Homeless Bill of Rights Continues

So in one sense this isn’t exactly a surprise uh senior officers at the council were never exactly welcoming to the idea that administrative efficiency is not the same thing as Humanity uh all that homeless people had rights and they never seem to be very much enthusiasm in the manager’s voluntary sector either.

Conclusion: A Declaration of Equal Dignity and Rights

So was it all in vein? well no I say, not at all. This document is a campaign document, like the city of sanctuary movement, we’ve inscribed these rights and principles into the official heart of the council and now we can use it in our campaigns to force people with power to take it seriously in fights on behalf of individuals or for policies and if the council is unwilling to use it as a standard to
judge its policies, practices and outcomes.

Then let us concerned citizens of the city use it instead. Homeless Bill of Rights declares that all of us whether or not we have settled homes are equal in dignity and rights and we must never give up the struggle to make that a reality.

[David Thomas Homeless Bill of Rights Speech Concluded]

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