Commentary: Friday afternoon we popped in to Hull City Centre to say hello to a group of homeless men occupying a pop-up Tent City in the Rose Bowl of Queen's Gardens.
They have been there a week and it has been a bitterly cold week.
All this group wants is a council re-think on how it treats homeless citizens.
The guys are a nice bunch of blokes, various ages and ethnicity.
Hubby and I took them a couple of bags of hot sausage rolls, a couple of hot cornish pasties and a few items we hope will help them to keep warm.
The only cost was the food as the rest was an old duvet, a couple of old jumpers and fleeces, some socks and scarves, that otherwise would have been taken to a charity shop.
We had no idea what they needed. When we asked Haydn on Facebook a day or two ago if we could take them anything he simply said something warm.
What was well received was a number of packets of hand rolling tobacco. It was "sloppy seconds" in that hubby always ends up leaving the "dregs" at the bottom of a pouch of tobacco but does not throw it away. It is stashed in a jar and kept for "emergencies."
Yes such is the life of an old and almost lifelong smoker.
This provided a fair few makeshift packets of baccie Friday and hubby added cig papers and filter tips into each pack.
I chatted about this and that with a few of the men but Hubby spoke with one guy who explained how he had ended up homeless.
The man's wife had suffered from a depressive illness. When the balance of her mind was disturbed she committed suicide. He had struggled to cope. He went off the rails and ultimately served time in jail. When he was released from jail he was homeless; his flat had been re-let.
The road back to normality following a prison sentence or sudden death is never easy.
We are all very different and the challenge is worse for some.
Once on a downward spiral how many people simply reoffend costing the system again and again and again.
Homelessness in one of the richest countries in the world should have ceased years ago. Instead it is on the increase.
Homelessness is bad news at any time of year but during a cold winter dreadful news; imagine being homeless at Christmas, a time when so many people are spending ridiculous amounts of money on silly purchases.
The council served eviction notices yesterday.
But the fight goes on. Support and help if you are able to.
Check out a few Facts and figures
More:Hull City Council Tent City press release following eviction notice
Hull Tent City championing homeless citizens
Getting rid of these spikes is a small gesture, but a huge step in acceptance and care, which will help to break down barriers, allowing us to engage more fully with the poverty and need which lies on our very doorsteps.”
In 2012 legislation to curb the rights of squatters in the UK was a mixed bag. As we reported in 2012 the changes meant that squatters might still attempt to move in to your property but at least now you would have legal powers to have them evicted. The law in 2012 was not set to change as far as non-residential properties went.
But almost three years on the housing crisis in the UK is out of control.
The rot began when Tory PM Margaret Thatcher allowed tenants to buy their council owned houses but at the same time limited the ability of councils to build new properties. The UK has also experienced housing bubbles which have spectacularly burst leaving people without a roof over their heads and more.
During the Thatcher era of British politics housing was de-regulated. This opened the door for unscrupulous landlords. Long term, secure and safe tenancies went to the wall and instead short term leases became the norm.
Current sky high prices and rents in parts of the south of England, notably London, has put decent housing out of reach of many young people and adults living on a poor income.
In 2013, 112,070 people declared themselves homeless in England. This figure represented a 26% increase in four years.
The ever increasing number of homeless people and those in work having to rely on welfare top-ups and food banks to survive is a black-mark against the British government.
The introduction of the spare bedroom tax on housing benefit added more pain to the vulnerable and poor and helped increase the number of homeless further.
Government figures from March 2015 claim:
If faced with the loss of their home, any household can apply to their local authority for acceptance for housing assistance. A household is considered homeless if they no longer have a legal right to occupy their accommodation or if it would no longer be reasonable to continue to live there, for example,if living there would lead to violence against them.
But no matter how government departments and ministers try to spin the homeless statistics the issue will not go away.
Homeless families in Britain: Shelter's analysis shows increase in homelessness in England
Second quarter 2011 Second quarter 2014
Action is needed and one tiny step in the right direction is HSBC and others removing anti-homeless spikes.
Update: A petition demanding the spikes be removed appears to have worked but there is a but!
Petition organiser Chris reports "HSBC head office have said they'll take the spikes down outside their branch on Birmingham New Street. After loads of us sent messages to HSBC on Facebook, Twitter and email, they announced on their Facebook wall that they'd take the spikes down - this is fantastic news and all thanks to thousands of us taking actions together. BUT before we get too excited, we've got to make sure HSBC are definitely going to remove the spikes. A few of us have had email replies from the New Street HSBC manager defending the spikes and nowhere did she say they’d take the spikes down."
Finally November 24 the spikes have gone but Chris Brees has started another petition which you can find here
BBC - HSBC bank 'helped clients dodge millions in tax'
Hodge tells Rona Fairhead resign over HSBC scandal
HSBC to cut 50,000 jobs worldwide
Just those two stories illustrate the Tory's priorities and show helping the poor or reducing the number of people forced to live on the streets is not part of the plan.
In December 2014 homeless charity Shelter reported '90,000 children in Britain will be homeless this Christmas.'
Adding insult to injury Tuesday David Cameron announced, as predicted earlier in 2015, the Tories plan to extend Thatcher's right-to-buy scheme to include housing association properties.
This move will obviously lead to a further increase in homelessness, more foodbanks opening and an extension of the unofficial 'social cleansing' in operation in London.
The announcement one-day ahead of the homeless marches and in view of the increased number of people living on the streets shows how out of touch the Tories are.
But they had not even thought about the response of the actual housing associations who quickly threatened to sue if the plan goes ahead.
The extension of the right-to-buy-scheme could be another failed promise in the making.