Homelessness

After life: Death + bereavement on the streets

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“I’m not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Woody Allen is not the only one of us to avoid facing up to death. Dying is something we rarely talk about – despite the fact that it will happen to us all one day. But some homeless charities are trying to change that. On 5 November, Housing Justice and The Connection at St Martin’s are due to hold their annual service of commemoration for homeless people who have died in the past year. The names of the deceased will be read out in the service at St Martin-in-the-Fields church on Trafalgar Square, alongside hymns, readings and songs. Around 150 names had already been submitted in October.

Read the full article: http://thepavement.org.uk/stories.php?story=1954

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Homelessness

From passive to active

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(The Pavement, 30 January 2013)  In the last issue, The Pavement introduced exP2A, a new leisure and fitness-focused charity run by former and current homeless service users. We sat down with two of its founders, Alex Ireland and James McPherson, in a cosy nook of the National Portrait Gallery to find out how the charity came about, how it will work and when the service will be up and running.

“What started the whole thing is that we see a really big gap in what’s really offered,” explains Ireland. “Homeless services are geared up to giving you somewhere to live and then providing support for basic needs but – and there’s a question whether it is their job to do any more than that – that’s as far as it goes. So you can either get into a flap about it or you can do something.”

Widely known in the homeless online community by her Twitter identity @aibaihe, exP2A director Ireland has long been a commentator on, and critic of, homeless services. So what’s it like to be on the other side of the fence? “This came up in our first meeting,” she admits. “How would we feel about being on the other side? We realised that it was important that we’re not.

“Although I’m very pro service-user employment, I’ve been quite critical of people who have gone straight from being homeless to being in a position of authority. That is quite dangerous and can make people feel very uncomfortable. But we’re not holding information or files on people; we’re not taking responsibility for them in that way. People can get involved on their own terms and we’re going to operate everything as a peer network.”

exP2A aims to give associates the chance to try new things and gain real skills. “At the moment is a lot of organisations running groups because they attract funding,” says Ireland. “And while a lot of organisations are coming round to the idea of service-user employment, they’re assuming that service users will become drug counsellors or work in hostels, but no more.” She hopes exP2A’s associates will discover activities and employment opportunities outside the homeless ‘bubble’. “You don’t just have to say, ‘Let’s stick them in a flat and that’s it. That’s all they can expect from life’.” The money the team raises through the fitness groups and other activities will go towards helping associates pay for personal training or group activities, be it learning to drive a forklift truck or going scuba diving. The condition is, they must decide together what to do with the money and learn to balance expensive activities with cheaper activities.

“The money will go into a central pool that they will help spend,” explains Ireland. “Obviously if they got the money [directly], it would to interfere with their benefits.”

Will associates be able to request funding for specific personal goals or needs? “Obviously, decisions have to be made as a group,” says Ireland. “But we might come up with a set of guidelines. Probably, down the line, if fundraising is successful, people could collect points based on attendance which they could put towards a personal goal.”

And exP2A’s empowering slogan, “From Passive to Active”, is not just about career prospects say Ireland. “It’s about showing people that you may be on benefits and if you do get a job, you’re not going to have much spare cash, but there are things you can do for free or you can budget to do some of the things you want – and you can build a community of like-minded people around you.” The exP2A team is starting to build a database of free and cheap things to do in London – from knitting clubs to, well, sitting in the National Portrait Gallery. They’d like to use this information to create an app, where you can enter your budget and discover cheap or free things to do within that.

Ireland is keen to be as frank as possible about launching a charity, and sees great potential in this approach. Asked about how long associates will stay with the charity, the plan is to wait and see. “We thought about that,” said Ireland. “Should it be a definite time thing? Should we be very organic about it? And we realised that until we do it, we don’t know. So keep it open, keep it public, admit to mistakes as we go along, and see where it takes us. But keep control of it, be very analytical and allow people to input. It’s a flat organisation. Obviously you’ve got people taking decisions about some things, but it’s more of a circle – that sounds really right on, but it’s true.”

Not everything’s gone to plan so far. Their Dickens-themed fundraising walk in July had to be cut short after half the team fell to injury (“There’s a rule that no one’s allowed to mention the Dickens’ Walk,” laughs Ireland), though they did raise £246. Then, after the charity’s October launch, the fitness groups were postponed to begin in January. And now, with Ireland heavily pregnant, they have been delayed again. “We’ll start the sessions after the [birth] and my two weeks’ mandatory break,” she says, optimistically. “And when the team’s back to full strength at the beginning of April, we’ll go back to running the three sessions a week at the correct time.”

For now, McPherson is keeping things ticking over and has taken to his position as Marketing & Community Manager like a duck to water. With only some basic experience (“I had some insight while I was at Centrepoint. Their communications department is absolutely fabulous and they allowed me to see into that world while I was there”), he has taken charge of exP2A’s Twitter account, website, marketing and publicity. “He’s the wonderkid,” marvels Ireland. “Basically, whatever you see it has been through him. And at the moment he’s also taking on my jobs. He’s the real thing, and anything that he didn’t know about before he’s learned on the job.”

While ex2PA’s on hold, McPherson’s been using the downtime to plan the charity’s marketing strategy. As well as handing out flyers outside Green Park Station and running the @DeskWorkout Twitter account, one plan is to start a controversial poster campaign. “We’re hoping to do that for the universities,” explains McPherson. “It’s essentially about challenging stereotypes about homeless people. One of the ideas was possibly using Alex and Brad, our other member of the team. He is a lot more masculine than I am [“he has quite an outwardly aggressive appearance,” interjects Alex with a laugh] and we thought if we had a few pictures of him motivating Alex as part of the fitness group, they could be cropped to look like something completely different.” A web address will direct people to the exp2A website, where they will see the full picture, in more ways than one. The results of and responses to the campaign, like all their planned marketing steps, will be reviewed online.

The team has also been testing the fitness plans. So what can participants expect to get for their very affordable £2 sessions (£10 per month for unlimited sessions)? “Initially, when people turn up we just do a meet and greet, get to know each other and answer any questions that they have about exP2A or homelessness in general,” says McPherson. “But really we just crack on with it, like a normal fitness session,” adds Ireland. Then after a warm-up, it’s on with the day’s fitness plan – which could include anything from running and walking to games. “The promise is that no fitness classes will be the same,” says Ireland. “And it’s very inclusive and informal as well. We’re a little bit inspired by British Military Fitness, who actually do classes in hostels, but they’re very hardcore and if you’re not up to that level it’s very difficult to get in.”

The sessions will take place in locations including Green Park, and the team is considering Lincoln’s Inn as another possible site – given its many soup runs and local students (one of exP2A’s future target groups). And although Ireland says she would consider an inside venue if it was offered, she prefers to keep the sessions outdoors. “Sometimes people feel better about being in an open space. If they really don’t like it they can melt away into the trees… Plus everyone can smoke – I don’t think we’d get anyone to come otherwise!” She’s also hoping permission won’t be an issue. “We’re not using it for commercial reasons – because our idea is that we’re just a group of people coming together and people are giving a suggested donation… Some parks are very strict about it but they’re not the parks we’re using anyway.”

Will they be looking for funders? “We may,” she says cautiously. “But we don’t want to fall into that trap of going for funding which then becomes necessary. We wanted it to be something that could be set up on a minimal budget and we want other people to take up the idea. We’re thinking of preparing a pack, like Housing Justice has for winter shelters, so that if someone wants to run a scheme, they’ve got all that information rather than having to go back to square one.”

They’ve had lots of feedback and queries from homeless organisations, hostels and would-be associates or volunteers. “It’s just this massive, unwieldy thing at the moment, so the difficulty has been reining it in,” admits Ireland. “We have massive ideas and bringing them to fruition will take a lot of time and effort, but [we have] to have the courage to say, ’OK, it looks quite simple at the moment but we do have big ideas, so bear with us’. The goal is to concentrate on those small things and get them right in the beginning, then start building.”

http://www.thepavement.org.uk/story.php?story=1568

Homelessness

Invisible People film UK homeless

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(The Pavement, 17 July 2012)  “Hold on a minute.” Seconds after meeting Mark Horvath, founder of pioneering US video blog Invisible People, he disappears into the crowd outside Charing Cross station. He’s spotted three sitting men by the entrance and wastes no time in getting acquainted. “You guys sleeping rough? Want some socks?” he asks cheerfully, before kneeling down to chat properly while commuters stream by unseeing. Horvath seems to have a radar for homeless people, which is unsurprising given he has dedicated his life to trying to help them. One of the men agrees to be filmed and as he recounts his experiences, passers-by look over curiously. With a camera in his face, he’s no longer invisible.

Making homeless people visible is exactly why Horvath set up InvisiblePeople.tv in 2008. Some 17 years ago he too had been homeless, living on Hollywood Boulevard, and knew what it was to be ignored, to not be able to tell his story. He managed to rebuild his life, built a successful career in television and settled into a three-bedroom house (“I know the best of both worlds – I know how to dumpster dive and how to tie a Windsor knot”) – and then economy crashed around him. Facing homelessness for a second time, he decided to set up Invisible People and go on the road. “It wasn’t the best timing. I had just lost my house to foreclosure, was facing my own financial crisis and it was a really dark time.” However he was embraced by the social media community and the site flourished. Today Invisible People has three million views on YouTube and 18,000 followers on Twitter. “The amazing statistic about Invisible People is the amount of people that stay,” adds Horvath. “Twenty-five per cent stay longer than 10 minutes and 14 per cent stay longer than half an hour. That’s huge.” Its success is the subject of upcoming documentary @home, which follows Horvath on his 2010 Invisible People road tour, meeting homeless people from Las Vegas to LA.

Right now, though, Horvath is in the UK on a whirlwind visit (thanks to free airfare from British Airways), taking in London and Chippenham (home of the Doorway Project). Although this is his first time in the capital, Horvath says he has no desire to do anything touristy: “I’m here just to meet homeless people, meet homeless friends. Most people would probably want to go to Big Ben or the London Eye. I’ll eat fish and chips and that will be it!”

Already the site is populated with videos of people he’s met so far in London. The first features 22-year-old Natasha, who has been living on the streets of London for four years. Leaning on her crutches, she quietly explains why she hasn’t been housed (“I’m not a drug addict, I’m not an alcoholic and I’m not pregnant, and they’re three things that get you help”) and her face lights up as she shares her dream of being a writer.

Filming the piece was tough, said Horvath, “I didn’t know what to ask her – it broke my heart… because I know what a young girl has gone through or will go through on the streets”. Already the video has been watched more than 160,000 times on YouTube, and attracted everything from offers of support, a place to live and a hand in marriage to vitriolic comments suggesting she is lying, on drugs and should get a job in McDonalds or as “a street hooker”. Nadia Gomos aka @Homelessgirl1 examined the responses in her blog post Analysing The Controversy Surrounding The “Natasha” Video (now on Huffington Post), concluding “All I know about Natasha is two minutes’ worth of footage on a person who has lived for 22 years… Whether we like it or not, we as a society have failed her.” Even Horvath comes under criticism, with one commenter writing: “Had an email back from Invisible People and they don’t have any contact details or way of contacting her, seems to me to be completely pointless highlighting a problem on a personal level like they did and then not enabling people to help that person.”

The aim of Invisible People, however, is not to act as an agent between individual homeless people and the general public, but to encourage passers-by to notice the homeless people they walk past every day. Nevertheless Horvath is not naïve that he or those he films won’t face criticism or appraisal: “The interesting thing about the internet is that everybody is up for review, so you have to live transparently. And there are always people that are going to be negative. This is how I responded, because it’s the truth; when you saw me homeless, would you have believed me when I told you I used to work in television?”

And despite the negative feedback, Horvath is still a big believer in the transformative and supportive power of social media. “Social media saved my life and it helps me save other people’s lives… Love and reciprocity plays really big on social media. If you’re good to people and real and tell a story people are going to react to that in a positive way.” As well as Invisible People he has set up We Are Visible, a website offering homeless visitors advice in social media literacy, from how to set up a blog to tweeting. “When I first started this I thought when a homeless person in Phoenix, Arizona or someplace says ‘I’m hungry’, the service providers would be on Twitter and say ‘hey, we have food’” says Horvath. “But what happened, which was a little more gorgeous, was homeless people helping homeless people over social media. Then I realised the power of peer-to-peer support.” In response he is in the process of turning it the site into closed network for people to help each other.

Another reason for the change is privacy. “One of first things that is so hard for a homeless person is to raise their hand in public and say ‘I’m homeless’,” explains Horvath. Since he’s been in London, he met many homeless people who although not willing to go on camera were keen to swap email addresses and keep in touch online. Horvath’s @HardlyNormal and @Invisible People timelines are full of conversations and appointment making with homeless people and service providers in London – all keen to meet or share ideas. “I landed and Jenny Edwards [CEO of Homeless Link] – she’s like an icon in homelessness here, she’s an amazing woman – she tweets me about the StreetWise Opera at the Royal Opera House. It was history in the making…it was almost like it was my destiny to be there and I was just blown away amazed.” Since the performance an online twitter petition has sprung up calling for a homeless opera at every Olympics, starting with Rio in 2016. “We’ve seen in the Middle East and other areas where social media has really led to some change,” says Horvath. “I really believe that’s where the change is going to happen. Because there’s so much money and so much bureaucracy in homeless services, that until the people on the streets have that voice you’re not going to see real change or see change happen fast.”

By voicing their views, he believes, homeless people can help homeless services ‘fix’ provision. “No homeless person I’ve ever met said ‘put in me a room with other 100 men, have me sleep on cots, give me one bathroom with two stalls and kick me out in the morning – and that’s going to cure my mental health and drug addiction. But that’s what we do.” Having been homeless and now working in a homeless shelter as his main source of income, Horvath himself is a natural intermediary. “When you listen to homeless services you hear a story. When you listen to homeless people on the streets you hear a story. And the truth I think lies somewhere in the middle. Cos everyone is going from their perspective and obviously a lot of street people are speaking out of their hurt and that’s because the system is broken. And refreshingly enough I was talking to homeless service providers last night [in London] who were saying ‘the system is broken, we got to change it, it’sjust change is slow and it’s a lot of work’.”

Horvath is optimist change can come. “When I was a kid I was a rebel, and if I saw any injustice I fought, I screamed, I yelled. And the only thing that changed was me. Now that I’m older I believe you have to work within the system, you have to make friends not enemies. I come in and say ‘hey, system’s broken, how can we fix it together?’” This approach is bearing fruit. In Arkansas, a farmer donated 40 acres of land that is being used to feed 150 low-income families a week. The Canadian government commissioned Horvath to go to 24 cities in Canada to help champion the Canadian Alliance To End Homelessness, which he says “will save thousands of lives and a lot of money”. Terry Pettigrew was reunited with his long-lost brother shortly before he died of cancer, after the Calgary Times put Horvath’s interview with Pettigrew on its front page. And that’s just the beginning.

“We live in a visual world – Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube,” explains Horvath. “Where homeless services are missing the mark is giveour homeless friends video cameras. If you’re going to give them a Smartphone make sure it has video and have them upload what their day is like. That’s where you’re going to see change.”

http://www.thepavement.org.uk/story.php?story=1532

Homelessness

London´s internet cafe homeless hostels

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(The Pavement, 15 June 2012)  In 2009, a flurry of stories about Japan’s “net café refugees” filled the national media – including The Pavement. But the issue may be closer to home, with reports of homeless people sleeping in London’s 24-hour internet cafés.

However, while some internet café owners in Japan were reported as offering individual cubicles, hot food and ‘per night’ rates, not all of their London counterparts are as keen to have sleeping surfers. One owner of a 24-hour Leicester Square internet café told The Pavement that he has had to take steps to dissuade homeless clients: “We get plenty of homeless people here – that’s why I had to close [the section] downstairs. We had people every night – it was affecting business. I don’t know how they have the money. I think some of them have money but prefer to live rough.”

Another nearby proprietor has encountered a similar situation in his downstairs internet café: “We have regular customers who sometimes fall asleep – I don’t know if they’re homeless or not. We don’t allow users to sleep in the dark corners at the back any more, as one time there was someone still here when we closed.”

In December, The Irish Times reported on homeless people sleeping overnight in internet cafés in Dublin. An outreach team described the numbers as “small, but growing and significant”, with two 24-hour internet cafés in Dublin’s city centre pinpointed as being used by homeless people to sleep. One charges €10 per night and even advertises itself in a window poster as being “cheaper than a hostel”.

We asked street outreach teams in London if they have come across people sleeping in internet cafés. Mike Nicholas, communications manager at Thames Reach, says the charity’s London Street Rescue service and Street Outreach Response Teams (SORTS) have had no referrals for people sleeping in internet cafés. “For internet cafés to be viable long-term locations to sleep rough, they would probably need to be open around the clock,” he explains. “I suspect that only very central London locations would have such internet cafés and Thames Reach, which covers which cover 23 of the 33 London boroughs, doesn’t operate in London’s West End, which is looked after by other homelessness charities… Were you to have any information about locations, we would, of course, investigate in order to provide support to those homeless people.”

Feedback from St Mungos’ Westminster Street Outreach and Street Concern, gathered by Media Manager Judith Higgin, “was broadly that [there are] very few open access 24 hour internet cafés in the areas where we have outreach teams, that we’re aware occasionally of people who send emails from libraries to streetconcern@mungos.org asking for advice about their situation. But in terms of rough sleepers ‘bedding down’ in internet cafés this is not really something staff have come across.”

Liz MacEwen, senior communications officer at Camden Council, echoed this: “Although many of our clients do use internet cafés, this is not a problem that has been reported in the borough.” Online forums reveal a few hints from homeless users, such as the posting on a Yahoo forum by a homeless teenager who writes: “I’ve got nowhere to go because I’ve been thrown out of my house by my hysterical mother, so I was wondering whether or not there are Internet Cafés where I could stay till very very late… I’m 16 btw so will I be allowed to stay on my own? thank you.”

http://www.thepavement.org.uk/story.php?story=1517

African arts, culture + politics · Homelessness

Far from home

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(ARISE magazine, issue 15) After a starring performance in acclaimed film The First Grader, Kenyan actor Oliver Litondo could have lent on Hollywood for his next role. Instead the 63-year-old former journalist chose a part in a short film about homelessness. The Truth About Stanley centres around the eccentric Congolese homeless man of the film’s title (played by Litondo), who forms an unlikely friendship with runaway Sam, regaling the 10 year old with fantastic tales. “What he lacks in material possessions, he makes up for with his vivid imagination and an insatiable desire to tell stories,” explains director and co-writer Lucy Tcherniak. “This storytelling serves as a coping mechanism, a crutch that allows him to deal with the harsh hand life has dealt him.” Produced in association with UK street newspaper The Big Issue and homeless hostel Anchor House, the film was shot over five days in London and premieres at London arts hub Rich Mix on April 2.

http://www.thetruthaboutstanley.blogspot.com

Homelessness

Rough sleepers predicted to live longer – 47 is the new 42

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(The Pavement, 11 February 2012) The outdated and overused statistic that “the life expectancy of someone who sleeps rough is 42 years” has finally been updated. The original figure came from Crisis’ 1996 report Still Dying For A Home (which we reported on in May 2010). The new report from Sheffield University, also commissioned by Crisis, ups this figure to 47.

But this doesn’t mean 46-year-old Pavement readers should start worrying. What the 1996 and 2011 Crisis reports calculate is not how long homeless people can expect to live, but their average age of death.

The briefing to the new report, Homelessness: A Silent Killer, makes this clear (unlike the 1996 study) by avoiding the term “life expectancy.”

In comparison to the average age of death in the so-called general population (77) it’s a shocking, headline-grabbing figure – even though the reason the figure is so low is that more homeless people die at a young age, dragging down the overall average.

Cause and effect

In the briefing to the report (which is still to be released in full), Crisis chief executive Leslie Morphy summarises: “This report paints a bleak picture of the consequences homelessness has on people’s health and wellbeing. Ultimately, it shows that homelessness is killing people.”

However, while being homeless can exacerbate existing health problems or even cause them, not having a home was not found to be the main cause of death among those counted. Instead, the study found homeless people are over nine times more likely to commit suicide than the general population, three times as likely to die as a result of a traffic accident, twice as likely to die of an infection and three times more likely to suffer from a fatal fall.

Most significantly, however, it calculated that drug and alcohol abuse account for just over a third of all deaths – a huge proportion. But drug and alcohol abuse of course also affects (and kills) members of the general population too. And as Jeremy Swain, CEO of Thames Link, commented on Twitter soon after the release of the report briefing on 21 December: “we know from robust academic research that alcohol and drug misuse nearly always precedes homelessness”.

Counting issues

The researchers also faced major obstacles in methodology. As Dr Bethan Thomas admits in the report: “Almost by definition, it is difficult to count homeless people and it is not possible to reliably estimate mortality for the previously homeless who have now found secure accommodation and so to discover what the long term effects of a period of homelessness might be. It is also difficult to count deaths of homeless persons. Death certificates do not record the deceased’s housing status.”

Despite these obstacles, Dr Thomas went ahead with the report – finding potential homeless deaths by matching postcodes from mortality data provided by the Office for National Statistics with postcodes of homeless day centres and hostel accommodation as provided by Homeless Link. In total 1,731 deaths (where the person was definitely homeless or there is a high probability they were) were counted.

What next?

Crisis has used the new report’s findings to outline a set of recommendations to improve homeless people’s health, in short: prioritise the needs of homeless people in the restructure of the NHS, reform health service delivery for homeless people and ensure provision meets needs and is integrated and holistic.

The next phase of the project, to be published in summer 2012, will investigate cause of death by age and analyse more detailed causes of death – plus, it is hoped, mortality by different accommodation type and area.

http://www.thepavement.org.uk/story.php?story=1425

Homelessness

A rubbish way to die

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(The Pavement, 10 December 2011) Last month The Pavement ran its first advert warning of the dangers of sleeping in bins (pictured). But how widespread is this issue and what is being done to discourage it? We asked Biffa, one of the UK’s leading waste management companies, if this is something they’re aware of and, if so, do they have any records to indicate the scale of the problem?

“It is on our radar,” confirmed Shaun Davis, Biffa’s Group Director of Health & Safety and the Environment. “In terms of statistics we’re quite fortunate because in the last three years we’ve had one accident involving a person in a bin, which resulted in a guy injuring his leg.”

Sadly, over the years, The Pavement has learned of and reported on much more severe, and sometimes fatal, cases. Just last month, two homeless men who were sleeping in a bin in San Antonio, Texas, were accidentally dumped into a waste truck compacter. According to KSAT news, one of the pair, Richard Salinas, managed to escape and raise the alarm but it was too late for the other man trapped inside, who was crushed from the waist down and later died.

In a bid to avoid tragedies such as this, Biffa has implemented a series of “pre-lift” procedures, designed to make sure no one in sleeping inside a bin before it is lifted and tipped into the waste truck. As well as visually checking that no one is in the bin, the bin is rattled once the lifting forks are in position to give anyone inside another opportunity to make themselves known. The trucks are also fitted with cameras, which film the rubbish material as it is tipped into the truck and relay the images back to the cab, giving staff another opportunity to spot a body.

Similar procedures were recommended in People in Commercial Waste Containers, a guidance document issued by the Health and Safety Executive in June 2010. Although not a legal document, it is made clear that “if you adopt the practice and principles described, you should be taking sufficient action to discharge your legal duties, and secure compliance with the law.” Required actions include carrying out a risk assessment of “all of the significant risks relating to the storage and subsequent collection of commercial waste, including the possibility of people gaining entry into bins.”

As well as implemented on-theground procedures, Biffa is keen to make sure its employees are aware of the risks. “We’ve created a DVD called People in Bins, which we rolled across the entire organisation to educate people,” says Mr Davis. “Secondly, as we know we’re coming into that season now which is particularly wet and cold, we run refresher programmes – what we call Toolbox Talks – which are short briefing sessions on the risk of people in bins and the dangers associated… Obviously it’s a risk all year round and particularly a risk in winter when it’s cold and wet, so we’re particularly active at discouraging it then.”

Another step Biffa is currently taking is to introduce a “near miss” reporting programme. “We are looking at actually identifying how many people we think might have been in a bin prior to us lifting it,” explains Mr Davis. “And also when we actually do move it, if anybody is found to be in that bin, making sure that our people report that internally as a near miss because that’s a potential accident – it might have been stopped at that time but we still need to know why.” Under the new scheme, staff will be able to call the Biffa call centre to notify the safety team immediately.

Biffa, like other waste management companies, has also introduced lockable tops and warning stickers on bins, although how effective such stickers are is unclear. The bin slept in by the two men in San Antonio had warning stickers on, and warning stickers were introduced in Brighton long before the death of teacher Scott Williams, who was crushed in a rubbish lorry after falling asleep in an industrial bin. Following that accident, in July 2009, City Clean “upgraded” its warning stickers on large bins and worked with the council’s homeless team to put up posters in hostels and other buildings visited by rough sleepers to warn them of the danger of sleeping in bins.

While Mr Davis sounds a note of caution about raising the issue of sleeping in bins – “people may not have thought of bins being nice and warm and dry and cosy” – he believes educating people is vital, and shouldn’t stop with Biffa. “If you were to lobby the ESA [Environmental Services Authority] then they in turn might get behind a campaign like this and get a number of the other waste organisations behind this. It’s something that I’m particularly keen on promoting and if it came from both sides – from the industry and pressure groups or public groups such as yourself – it could be really worthwhile.”

http://www.thepavement.org.uk/story.php?story=1382