Westminster City Council is proposing a bylaw to prevent rough sleeping and the distribution of free food (such as soup runs) in a large area of Victoria.
The council says that the motivation for this is the bad impact that rough sleeping and soup runs have on local residents and businesses in the area.
Clearly if this is adopted it would have an effect on the soup runs which the Simon Community has been delivering in this area for many years, but of course the effects would be far more profound.
Many regard giving food as a fundamental human right. Indeed this is a founding principal of the Simon Community to bring comfort to people through the supply of food which presents us with an opportunity to offer human contact to people living rough on the streets.
The Simon Community is actively objecting to this idea and is working with many other like minded organisations through the Soup Run Forum which met on 3rd March to discuss a coordinated response.
There has been coverage of this in many newspapers, television and radio including and article by Johann Hari in the Independent who accompanied Simon volunteers doing streetwork recently; an interview with Alastair Murray on PM programme on Radio 4 (about 38mins in) and we also had a letter published in the Guardian.
This is a period of consultation (until 25th March) so if you would like to make your feelings known you can get a copy of the consultation document, bylaw & map here. It would be most effective if you could make your comments by post. You can write to: Rough Sleeping Team, Westminster Council, Westminster City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6QP, or email [email protected] by Friday 25th March 2011. You might also like to write to your MP, the Prime Minister of Westminster Councillors directly.
If we act together we can prevent this obnoxious bylaw coming into force.