Here we are, we’ve made it together to the end of this year, dominated by the pandemic, perhaps a howl of pain from our earth, battered by business, while the voice of Black Lives Matter rose up with courage in protest against enduring injustice and brutality. Your support for this work has helped women already on the margins, made even more vulnerable by the pandemic and those who find themselves at the sharp end of racial injustice and all kinds of brutality…
We are thrilled to announce that Street Talk has been selected as the winner of the Centre for Social Justice’s Addiction Award.
All of us at Street Talk are honoured and encouraged to recieve this award and we’d like to offer a big thank you to the CSJ, Cathy Newman, the Alex & William de Winton Trust and the Telephraph.
It is moving that this award creates a link between the CSJ and some of the most marginalised women on the streets of our city.
Like most of the women we work with, Ruth’s story begins with abuse in childhood. She grew up in care and missed out on her education as she was frequently moved between foster homes.
When she came to Street Talk she was in her late twenties and on crutches having fallen from a balcony while high on crack. At that time, she was very mentally unwell, homeless, sex working and chaotically using.
Beginning therapy, Street Talk learned that Ruth was grieving for her child who had been removed by social services and later died while in foster care. She was desperate and talked of taking her own life.
Over time Ruth formed a good relationship with her counsellor who very quickly saw what an intelligent woman she was. Gradually her mental health improved and her using reduced. After eight months she began to talk about what she might like to do with her own life, and to start to dream about what she might be capable of.
Ruth decided that she wanted to take part in an entrepreneurship training course provided by one of Street Talk’s partner organisations. She set herself the goal of stopping using crack before the course began — a goal which she achieved.
After a nervous start Ruth soon found her feet and with support from Street Talk and our partner organisation she was able to make the most of the opportunity.
She went on to complete an access course and eventually earned her degree in psychology from Middlesex University. After graduating, Ruth felt she had made enough progress that she no longer needed Street Talk’s services. We can only imagine how far she will go.
We’re delighted to announce that artist and art historian James Willis has kindly agreed to deliver this online lecture with all proceeds going to Street Talk.
The event will take place, via Zoom, on September 10th from 7 til 8pm and the topic will be Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress – the celebrated series of paintings and moral tale depicting 18th century London. Tickets cost £5 and are available at street-talk.eventbrite.co.uk
James Willis is an artist and art historian whose work has been exhibited in the UK and abroad, including at the OXO Gallery on the Southbank, and the Mall Galleries in London. He lectures on a range of art historical subjects and teaching painting.
Sitting in Limbo, Stephen S Thompson’s drama about his brother who was a victim of the Windrush scandal is going out at 8.30pm on BBC1 tonight. Women who’ve come to Street Talk have had their lives destroyed by the Windrush debacle as well as by current immigration injustices.
Theresa, despite living alone and coping with poor mental health, was saving to buy the council flat where she had lived for thirty years when she received the letter telling her that she would be required to evidence her right to be in the country.
Stories were circulating about people getting the knock on the door from immigration and being carted off to a detention centre. Theresa was terrified and took to rough sleeping, which was less frightening to her than staying in her flat waiting for that knock. She thought if she wasn’t in the flat, they couldn’t come for her.
While rough sleeping, she was beaten up one night and suffered a brain injury which has left her with diminished cognitive ability. After a year of only going back to the flat occasionally to get things, Theresa was evicted on the grounds of under occupancy. She went from aspiring to but her home to having no home and now lives in a hostel for the homeless. Nobody is going to compensate her. She is no longer eligible for social housing because she was considered to have intentionally made herself homeless.
Another woman, Cheryl, was married with two young children in London. She was hounded by the immigration authorities and had been threatened with removal. She was desperately afraid of leaving her children without a mother, but at the same time had recently been diagnosed with cancer. Immigration continued to pursue her and throughout her illness she lived in terror right up to her death from breast cancer last year.
These are just two of countless examples of brutal and inhumane treatment inflicted by the immigration services in this country that Street Talk has born witness to.
The Government has announced that it is committed to accommodating the street homeless people, who have been taken into emergency accommodation, as part of the response to Coronavirus.
Since Street Talk was founded fifteen years ago, the numbers of women on the streets have multiplied. We have seen how austerity, accompanied by changes to the benefit system, not least the practice of sanctioning benefits, have put many vulnerable women on the street.
Street Talk is asking the government not only to fulfil their promise to accommodate people who have become homeless but to prevent homelessness by addressing the causes. If austerity has created street homelessness by marginalising the vulnerable, investment in services for vulnerable people would reverse it.
Street Talk asks the government to prevent vulnerable people from becoming homeless by committing to substantial and long term investment in:
- Children’s services and support for vulnerable families
- The profressionalisation of foster care
- Mental health services
- Support for those leaving the care system
- Mental health care and rehabilitation for those in prison and housing and support following release
- Legal aid