Saturday, 04 July 2015

Big Issue founder fears vulnerable are left to 'rot'

The founder of the Big Issue has called for housing associations to be given more support to assist tenants with mental illnesses and addictions. 

Speaking at the premier of The Truth About Stanley, a short film which is raising money for homelessness charities, John Bird said the drug addict father in the film needed mental support as well as social security.

‘What’s interesting to me is Sam’s father is a druggie, yet he’s supported at home. He’s causing a lot of grief to himself, his wife and his children. I saw that young man and thought who’s there for him? You can’t just move them [people with addiction and mental illnesses] into social housing and leave them to stew and rot, you need to give them support.’

Mr Bird added that housing associations need more money to offer tenants with addiction and mental health problems support.

‘I’m appalled at what social housing providers are expected to provide,’ he said. ‘No-ones paying the big bucks in the short term and it’s going to cost more money in the long term. If we really want to make a change we have to get behind charities and housing associations to give them the support they need.’

He also said he believed in the idea of people, not just governments, being involved in the rehabilitation of homeless people, but thought the coalition government had ‘kidnapped’ this concept with the Big Society.

‘Every person that buys a Big Issue is buying into the concept of the Big Society. Unfortunately, it has been kidnapped by Mr Cameron and other people and has been turned into a large political cover to some extent for the cuts, and that’s one of the tragedies. But let’s not turn against the very idea that it’s your responsibility and that it’s my responsibility to help the homeless to help themselves,’ he added.

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