Housing, LTN, Living Wage, child exploitation and charity shops

A general view of HMP Pentonville. Picture: Victoria Jones

There are empty three- and four-bedroom flats near Pentonville Prison - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Help end empty homes so we can support homeless

Morag Gillie, co-chair, Islington Homes for All, writes:

I am writing as co-chair of Islington Homes for All at the start of our campaign against empty homes.

In 2019 the Islington Gazette covered the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) snub to Islington Council’s attempts to lease 29 three- and four-bedroom flats near Pentonville Prison to accommodate homeless families.

The MoJ ruled out selling its Roman Way units, which have been empty for 29 years, to the borough with more than 14,000 people on its council house waiting list. 

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As you said in your article then the down-at-heel blocks were once prisons officers’ accommodation and in 2019 the MoJ were about to agree terms to lease these properties to the council, to be used as much needed temporary accommodation for homeless families. However the MoJ officials were instructed to look instead at alternative uses for the site. Local homeless families would have benefited from this much needed housing and two years later it is still lying empty. 

It’s criminal when Islington Council would occupy those flats tomorrow and put people up to ease the housing crisis. Something needs to be done.

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Islington Homes for All has written to the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, asking him to intervene as he intervened to make sure the Holloway Prison site was acquired by Peabody Housing to ensure that people in Islington would benefit from the social housing to be built as part of the development.

Islington Homes for All along with Action on Empty Homes are launched the campaign on April 17 at 11am at the Breakout Café in Caledonian Road opposite the empty prison officer housing in Roman Way. 

Join the low traffic revolution today

Phil Buckle, Islington, full address supplied, writes:

Now that brighter days are here, isn’t it lovely to see people out walking, children (and parents) out playing and neighbours chatting in their Low Traffic Neighbourhood, everyone enjoying the sunshine and using all that space previously taken up by polluting, dangerous motor traffic?

I’m one of the many other Islington residents who are looking forward to People Friendly Streets coming our way. 

Why not join us at LowTrafficIslington.org to get involved in the campaign?

Living Wage issue needs support

Vitória Russo Gaino, King’s College student, writes:

This mayoral election and Assembly is a fresh opportunity for Londoners to have their voices heard.

As a final-year student at King’s College London, I am particularly interested in the Living Wage issue which will be brought to the mayoral candidates. After a hefty investment in my education of both time and money, I want to make sure my work will be valued and I will be able to make a living after graduating.  

The mayoral assembly on April 28 is to me an opportunity to make sure that the candidates are held accountable to the communities they are meant to serve. 

And it’s also a chance to turn the frustration and anger we feel towards different issues into concrete action. 

With substantial loans and years of study behind us, my fellow graduates and I are entering the job market disheartened by the few job prospects and low wages that can make it hard to make ends meet. By becoming the first Living Wage city and implementing Living Hours, the mayoral candidates could ensure that the future ahead looks bright and promising to young people once again.

I urge readers to visit citizensuk.org to read our manifesto and support it.

Help children as nightlife returns

Barnardo’s London Director Lynn Gradwell outside the charity’s regional office in Chillingworth Road

Barnardo’s London Director Lynn Gradwell - Credit: Barnardo's

Lynn Gradwell, director, Barnardo’s London, writes:

The past few weeks and months have been incredibly difficult for businesses in the hospitality sector which have been forced to shut their doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

We all know the closure of pubs, bars and restaurants has had a dreadful economic impact on the livelihoods of so many people, so the return of London’s night-time economy is to be welcomed by all who work and live in this great city.

But at Barnardo’s we know from our long expertise as the UK’s largest children’s charity that there is another side to the bustling fun of London’s night-time economy; one sadly where those who seek to harm and exploit children and young people use the hours of darkness as a time to operate. That’s why Barnardo’s is raising awareness of its free Nightwatch training programme as night-time businesses seek to re-open.

A new toolkit will support the Nightwatch training to safeguard children and young people from exploitation by increasing awareness among businesses and services working in the night-time economy. The toolkit explains what child exploitation is, why businesses should care and what people should do if they have concerns that a child is being exploited. It includes a helpful checklist for businesses including hotels, licenced venues and taxi drivers.

We are all too aware that child exploitation is under reported and using this toolkit could be the difference between someone coming to harm or receiving the help they need. Barnardo’s has created a vital network of eyes and ears after dark that will help keep children and young people safe.

Our charity shops need your support

Martin Wildsmith, director of retail, Sue Ryder, writes:

Sue Ryder has been impacted heavily by the Coronavirus outbreak as our charity shops have been closed for many months and for every week our shops have been closed, Sue Ryder has lost £500,000.

Throughout the past few weeks we have been focussing on placing the safety of our customers, staff and volunteers at the heart of our reopening plans and we are incredibly excited to be welcoming back customers into our shops.

We will continue to restrict the number of people in our shops at any one time and encourage social distancing. We will also be continuing with our enhanced shop cleaning and our hand gel stations will be available for our customers to use. In line with government rules we would ask all our customers to wear face masks unless exempt.

We are able to take donations once again, and whilst we really do need donated goods, especially any summer clothes your readers may be looking to donate, we are expecting a large influx of donations once we reopen. This means there may be times when we are unable to accept donations.

We are incredibly grateful for the support and generosity of the local community. It is thanks to their support that Sue Ryder has been able to continue providing compassionate and expert palliative, bereavement and neurological support to thousands of people and their families across the UK throughout the pandemic.

We look forward to welcoming back our customers and donors, old and new and we would like to thank them all in advance for their patience and understanding as we try our best to navigate the challenging environment that we find ourselves operating in.

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