Monday, 9 June 2014
Spikes to keep the homeless out, where is society going ?
A worrying report over the weekend in the papers confirmed that many expensive propeties in and around the capital are installing spikes to keep out the homeless. "A new development in London has installed metal spikes in an alcove – such 'defensive architecture' helps us to pretend real poverty doesn't exist For more than a decade "defensive architecture" has increasingly been creeping into urban life. From narrow, slanted bus shelter seats – not even suitable for sitting on, let alone sleeping on – to park benches with peculiar armrests designed to make it impossible to recline; from angular metal studs on central London ledges to surreal forests of pyramid bollards under bridges and flyovers. Hard property jutting out against soft homeless bodies, saying: how dare you be poor in plain sight? Step by selfish step we have arrived at the latest item causing outrage: a bed of metal spikes inside an alcove of a fancy new development on Southwark Bridge Road in London. "I think it's a good idea," one resident said. Speaking of "beggars and homeless people sleeping there", she added: "It completely affects the way the building seems, the appearance, and it's just not very nice." An Englishman's home is his castle, and that castle now includes a moat to keep the peasants out. These "anti-homeless" measures are designed to move the destitute on to somewhere else. This for me stems directly from Margret Thatchers idea of there is no such thing as society and to turn us all into selfish poor hating individuals with only a care for ourselves. At the root of this cruelty, which treats the dispossessed like a pigeon infestation – fed crumbs by the kindly misguided, shooed away by the thoughtlessly indifferent and spiked by the inhumanly practical – are wilful misconceptions about homelessness: that it is a lifestyle choice, which oddly becomes more popular during periods of nationwide economic ruin; that poverty is down to personal failure; that kindness perpetuates it; and, more than any misconception, that good shelter is readily available. And this damaging dissociation of the destitute from the rest of the world, this dehumanising effect, is precisely the aspect that such offensive "defensive architecture" feeds. It makes the city hostile to those who exist in this parallel reality. It breaks their psyche down further, making recovery less likely. It consigns them further out of sight so that the rest may continue to pretend that real poverty doesn't exist. It doesn't just deny someone who has absolutely nothing, a place to rest; it is a sign which reads, "Not even this bit of earth. Not even for the night." This turns my stomach that we are going down this route. The medias demonisatin of the poor one of the few remaining acceptable catagories of people to bash repeatably for simply being poor has lead to this selfish mentality. The lack of affordable housing and decent levels of support is hugely lacking with benifit cuts and tightening of the welfare budget year on year it is no wonder homelessness is shooting up in and outside of London for that matter. To pretend povety doesnt exist in our own country which is stll one of the wealthiest on the planet is woeful and hugely embarrassing toa country who likes to make out it is a civil society to the rest of the world whilst turning a blind eye to its own povety at home. with quotes and extracts from comment is free http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/09/spikes-homeless-london-metal-alcove-defensive-architecture-poverty