Anti homeless spikes force us to confront our complicit attitude

The introduction of ‘anti-homeless spikes’ outside of a London block of flats has caused social media ‘outrage’. The spikes are located anywhere a homeless person might find shelter, therefore they limit the number of relatively safe places for these vulnerable people to shelter.

Personally, I feel this is a good thing because in a country as wealthy and developed as ours, ‘outrage’ and ‘homeless people’ should be seen together a lot more. Firstly, they raise the question of who exactly should be held accountable for the welfare of our homeless. Quite simply the NIMBY attitude these spikes represent is understandable, no one really wants strangers hanging around their homes or work place. It has been highlighted that the spikes are actually just one of many homeless deterrents present in the city, albeit a particularly vicious one. Many of London’s benches, bus stops and shelters have been specifically designed to ensure that homeless people are not able to comfortably spend the night there. The issue is that the ‘problem’ does not simply disappear, it merely becomes someone else’s. With everyone passing the difficulty on to someone else an effective solution has not been found and deterrents are become more malicious.

Sadly this implies the lazy compliance of a society willing to accept the permanent presence of a homeless community rather than question it. The majority of us are more likely to notice a pretty shop display than we are to the notice the desperately vulnerable individual outside it. Nothing ruins a bit of retail therapy more than the reminder of poverty. Of course, some hold the opinion that homeless people do not need our help as they have lead themselves to their situation. The fear that your donation is being spent on drugs or alcohol is not irrational. However, this may just be a result of the impact being homeless has on mental health. Most of us reach for a glass of wine after a particularly stressful or horrible day- it is a coping mechanism. Therefore craving some form of escapism when you have no house, family, food or friends seems understandable. It is common to develop an addiction as a way of dealing with difficult events, and therefore we should be providing them with support, not spikes. The introduction of spikes epitomises our countries evasive attitude towards the homeless.

In a country that can afford to spend £710 million pounds a year on beauty products, we should be able to come up with a better solution to the issue than that of deterrents. Therefore if all it takes is a few small spikes to shock people into remembering the homeless of Britain, then maybe we should introduce a few more.

One comment

  1. What a wonderful, considered article, thank you.

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