AN OPEN LETTER TO STEVE DOWNES, EDP.

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by Eli Lambe 

No, Soup Kitchens are not making Norwich’s “Homelessness problem” worse. It might seem that way to you, if you’re used to brushing the vulnerable off and not having to see the reality of more and more people’s lives. The easy solution – and the one that your newspaper and the local police like to peddle – is to force rough sleepers and vulnerable people out to the fringes of the city, where they’re cut off from their community and support and, most importantly it seems, you don’t have to see them.

What makes you think that your walking past the Haymarket every so often qualifies you to write about the lives of the people in the queue?Continue Reading

OLD JERUSALEM AND JERICHO

by Chris Jarvis

They talk of dreaming spires
sleeping beneath them is routine
Crammed into a shop front
derailed carriage lost steam

Through the spiralled alleyways
off the beaten track
A dampen sodden mattress
a man laid on his backContinue Reading

PUNK 4 THE HOMELESS

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by Tim Forster

Punk 4 The Homeless has been busy raising money for homeless children in Central America since January 2010. They’ve been doing this through a variety of gigs throughout any given year and with a monthly Benefit Gig at the Sumac Centre in Nottingham. The monies raised are channelled through Compass Children’s Charity which started as Casa Alianza UK in February 1999 to raise funds for programmes in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Casa Alianza was founded in 1981 in response to the senseless death of one child – 13-year-old Nahamán Carmona López – a street child kicked to death in Guatemala City by four police officers who found him sniffing glue on the streets to combat his wracking hunger pains. This incident lies behind the P4TH slogan, ‘Stopping Cops Killing Kids Is Punk Rock’.Continue Reading

“HI, HOW ARE YOU?”

by Kev Walker

Content warning:  mentions substance misuse, mental health, homelessness, conflict

It’s all bling and totter, down the lights of the highstreet, drunk by the train journey there
Cackles and shouts, tales of shagging and swearing, cosmetics squeeze out the air
Bravado and vanity, beer and wine, heading for the first open club
Boys strut with their chests out, showing a leg, only thoughts are of getting a rub.

He’s crouched in the corner, a-top a damp box, wrapped in a half soaking doss-bag
A dog by his side, as companion and protector, a mucker to share a sparse nose-bag
He shakes with the cold, but also the comedown          the cider has long since left him
A blot-out, a release, from the pain in his mind and the mess he now finds himself in.Continue Reading

GENERATION AIRBNB – SAN FRANCISCO

by Hannah Rose

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked.
Allen Ginsberg, San Francisco. 1955

Aliyah has lived in San Francisco’s Mission district her entire life, which I estimate at being around twenty-eight years. Mission is the city’s working class and Latino area. She sleeps on the living room floor. The TV is on and throws intermittent light over her slumbering form, phone still in hand. I have to step over Aliyah on my way to her room—which I am renting through Airbnb for the week—and am careful not to wake her despite the blare of the TV. On the wall, beneath a tangle of half-deflated gold balloons left over from a party, is a giant poster of Whitney Houston—the queen of pop. Behind the water cooler is the silhouetted form of Michael Jackson—the king of pop—suspended on tippy-toes and ‘He Lives’ stencilled beneath.

Photographs of Aliyah and her husband smile back at me from heart-shaped frames that decorate the far wall and on a small, white canvas the words ‘Life is the Flower for which Love is the Honey’ are in poppy-red. One of a few splashes of colour in this windowless, dimly lit apartment.Continue Reading

SQUALOR, OVERCROWDING, EVICTIONS – THE TORIES HAVE NO ANSWERS ON THE HOUSING CRISIS

by Olivia Hanks

“Walk down your local high street today and there’s one sight you’re almost certain to see. Young people, faces pressed against the estate agent’s window, trying and failing to find a home they can afford.” Sajid Javid’s words, in his speech launching the government’s latest white paper on housing, were rather unfortunate. The sight we’ve all been seeing on high streets this winter is the clusters of sleeping bags in doorways, the faces those of people failed so badly by society that they no longer have anywhere to live at all. This lack of understanding of what the housing crisis really is – not just thwarted aspirations of ownership, but squalor, overcrowding, evictions – sets the tone for this misfiring, misleading, self-contradicting paper.Continue Reading

NORWICH HOMELESSNESS: NOT JUST A PROBLEM FOR CHRISTMAS

By James Anthony

As another Christmas passes us by, society suddenly remembers about the people living their lives on the streets. The cold weather and family focus of this time of year always seems to bring about fresh discussion, reports, and news concerning the issues around homelessness. Thankfully, much of the talk on the subject – especially on social media – is rather positive. This year I’ve seen a considerable number of friends and colleagues on Twitter and Facebook talking about admirable projects that provide food, care and company to those without a home during the Christmas period.

Continue Reading

VAGABONDS, RASCALS, AND RUNAWAYS – A REVIEW OF CRUDE APACHE’S RICHARD III

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by Hannah Rose

Director Tim Lane’s adaptation of Richard III is bone-chilling—and that’s not only down to the lack of heating in the Shoe Factory Social Club in Norwich. Shakespeare’s story of the wicked and rapacious King Richard is superbly located by Crude Apache in the disused factory space, which has been turned into a frightening vision of the future, an urban hinterland where people live in makeshift communities of cardboard boxes and behind wire fences. Exposed lights, metal girders and old sofas furbish the old factory; I could have been inside a modish bar in Hackney, or a punk squat in Berlin. The thumping techno beats made it all the more ethereal, and for a moment I was back at an illegal rave I once went to when I was twenty, except this one sold gin and tonics and cups of tea.Continue Reading

NOW IS THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT – PREVIEW

by Hannah Rose

Now is the winter of our discontent
Richard III reimagined by The Crude Apache Theatre Company

23rd Nov – 3 December

The Crude Apache Theatre Company will be performing a striking adaptation of Shakespeare’s bloodthirsty Richard III at the Shoe Factory Social Club in Norwich. A post-industrial dystopian world awaits audiences, as the Company prepares to throw them into this sinister tale of the power-mad and murderous.Continue Reading

SOUNDTRACK OF THE REVOLUTION – AN INTERVIEW WITH SPUD OF LOBSTER

by Chris Jarvis

The Midlands have been for many years a breeding ground for the very best talents on the UK ska scene. In the 1980s, it was the pioneering sounds of Coventry’s two-tone bands – The Specials and The Selecter that led the way. Nowadays, Birmingham has a lively and burgeoning scene of acts that are fusing traditional reggae and dub music with the energy and raw anger of punk and hip-hop. Building on the reggae vibes of Brummie legends such as Steel Pulse and UB40, Lobster and their peers have built a sound and a scene that brings together the many traditions of these musical legacies. Throughout this, they have maintained a focus on politics and conscious lyricism. Because of this, we decided to talk with Lobster’s frontman Spud about his and the band’s outlook and the implications this has for their music as part of our series Music That Matters.
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HACKNEY’S ‘CRIMINALISING HOMELESSNESS’ PSPO COULD SURFACE IN NORWICH UNDER A DIFFERENT GUISE

by James Dixon

Hackney Council have recently come under fire for their pursuit of a Public Safety Protection Order (PSPO) which critics say would start ‘criminalising homelessness’ in the Borough. It would ban ‘rough-sleeping’ and ‘loitering’ and those found to be breaking the PSPO could be served with a maximum fine of £1000. The morals of fining those who have nothing and segregating homeless people away from centres of populace have been pointed out: the council has been derided from homeless charities to pop singer Ellie Goulding.

Norwich City Council have been weighing up implementing a PSPO in the city centre focusing on protecting the War Memorial and Memorial Gardens from damage. Their aims are valiant but the manner in which this is undertaken has left much to be desired.Continue Reading

THE AGE OF REASON REDUX

by Jack Brindelli 

It was Norfolk’s — and arguably history’s — finest polemicist, Thomas Paine, who best summed up the illogical institution of monarchy when he wrote, “One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves of it. Otherwise, she would not so frequently turn it to ridicule, by giving mankind an ASS for a LION.” Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense rocked the world when it was first published some 240 years ago – inspiring revolution in America, and resentment amongst the ruling class in Britain. It left them trembling at the prospect of revolution on their own doorstep, as the former Corset-maker from Thetford dared common folk everywhere to question exactly why we should offer the inbred parasites atop our society anything but contempt, and the wrong end of a sword.

There have, of course, been some earth shattering changes since the days of Paine — but before you get too comfortable, think hard, ye serfs, on the events of Saturday May 2nd.

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IMAGINING THE POOR: NOTES ON POVERTY AND WELFARE

by Steffan Smith

Who are the poor? Why are they poor? And what keeps them so? These three simple questions are central to the way in which we as a society approach the welfare needs of our poorest people.

To sift society’s answers, of which there are many variants, quickly reveals that there are two major and contradictory ways of understanding the source of poverty. The first way of thinking puts the individual at the centre of the picture, seeing affluence and destitution as straightforwardly reflective of individual worth; this is a central tenet of the right wing worldview. By contrast, the second way sees the individual as a small part of a larger system that they cannot dictate, pawns of varying levels of power cutting a path within set bounds; this is fundamental to the left wing worldview.Continue Reading