In addition to the fact that we already provide homes for nearly half of the population of Portsmouth*, local landlords once again raised money for the homeless and took direct action after our Christmas party, distributing the leftover food from the hotel to people in need around the city. We also raised money on the night which we are making arrangements to ensure is used to provide food to the homeless by a local charity.
Comments from our distribution volunteers and more details…
- Food supplied this year was poorer compared to last year, there was a lot of 'stodge' stuff that was untouched. Much of this was still in the fridge outside and was not brought into the room.
- Sandwiches were staler as they were probably prepared far in advance.
- There was far less food left to give out this year, particularly sandwiches.
- However, there was more chicken left to distribute.
- We gave about 30% of the food (2 ltr ice-cream tub full of cheese chunks, a bag of pineapple pieces and 60 slices of quiche) to Winter Emergency accommodation / Soc of St James /PCC funded, in Kingston Road. Very grateful. Only just opened so 22 of 30 beds occupied but going up each night as the word spreads. Duty manager confirmed that many street people do not like attending hostels and being exposed to drug and alcohol taking.
- Many had been through this and did not want the exposure, this confirmed by a 'client" at the hostel.
- The rest of food was given out on the streets.
- We did not give out the 'stodge' that was left over.
- We made up food packs of sandwiches, sausage rolls, pizza and cheese. These were wrapped in foil and the cling film.
- We met 15 homeless people (18 last year).
- 2 maybe 3 women.
- It was colder this year.
- Most were extremely polite and grateful.
- We came across about 7 bundles of bedding left unattended.
- These people had possibly found a place off the streets for this night and could not take their bedding with them. (We subsequently confirmed that most hostels do not allow people to bring in bedding, so when a place for the night is found, the bedding is left to protect / keep the daytime pitch)
- Most of the street people we met did not appear to be hungry and did have food with them. Some had substantial amounts.
- One woman seemed to have a lot of hotdogs, burgers and chips that were possibly left for her by passers-by.
- Some of her food looked disgusting and she said she refuses to eat it so she was grateful of our parcel.
- Most street people were very clean and tidy. A few had turned their shop doorway into a skip and were not helping the publics attitude to the homeless. These were very much the minority.
- Several we spoke to preferred to be on the streets rather than at a hostel.
- One asked us for money so he could get into a place for the night.
- Locations: Commercial Road, Arundel Street, Palmerston Road precincts, Guildhall Walk, Albert Road.
- No street people around the hard area and Portsmouth & Southsea railway station like last year.
- We trawled London and Fratton Road, Queen Street, Lawrence and Fawcett Road, Clarence Road 'hub' among others and no one.
The only downside of the night is that we only managed to raise £300 from our raffle and other activities - which is not much more than the value of the prizes, confirming most peoples perception that landlords are a stingy lot. Must do better next time!
* It is known that 1 in 3 properties in the city are now owned and managed by private landlords, providing safe and well maintained homes for a large proportion of those who live here. The assertion that 'nearly half of the population of Portsmouth" are housed in the private sector is based on the fact that 1 in 3 properties are provided in the PRS and whereas the majority of properties in the PRS are fully occupied, we also know that 1 in 6 privately owned properties in several districts of the city have a single occupant. Based on this, we assume that between 40-50% of the local population live in the PRS even though 60% of houses are privately owned.