One cannot escape the unending updates of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding in May. So, a Conservative councillor, Simon Dudley, really put his foot in it when he called on police to remove the ‘epidemic’ of rough sleepers, vagrants and beggars in order to make conditions more pleasant for residents and tourists ahead of the royal nuptials.
Such words from a politician were disappointing, who then found himself being ‘slapped down’ by his own Prime Minister. They conjured up memories of 2016’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where officials invaded and walled up favelas (slum communities) behind colourful facades to mask their city’s societal blemishes from polite TV audiences and tourists. Similarly, my own native Sydney Olympics saw authorities intimidate and drive away many homeless people for identical reasons. Disgraceful.
A week later, Councillor Dudley clarified himself: emphasising he was referring to ‘anti-social behaviour’ [aggressive begging] not homeless people per se. Say what you will about Councillor Dudley, I for one saw a silver lining to his faux pas: precious light being shone on the issue of homelessness. And, that is what I am interested in: exploring ways to ameliorate homelessness and poverty…
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