The homeless in London

After working in London for over ten years I have seen homeless people and I have seen apparently ‘homeless’ people.  The old office was in Rosebery Avenue which is near Clerkenwell Road and about ten years ago it wasn’t the most nicest of places to work.  In those days it was still quite run down and the rent of properties was cheap.  Most of the buildings in that area are old Victorian warehouses converted into flats or office space.  As you can imagine the old offices had high ceilings and huge windows.  Over time, the area improved and the amount of tramps wandering around Rosebery Ave/Clerkenwell started to get smaller with the exception of one who I still saw about a week before we moved office.  He looked like a ‘proper’ tramp – bearded, unkempt and he always had a can of Tennents Super in his hand.  Once we found him asleep in the office stairwell – he must have got in somehow and decided it was a nice dry place for the night.

At Farringdon Station there would always be beggars claiming they were homeless.  These are the more dubious ‘homeless’ as I would see these beggars walking about Clerkenwell during the day on their mobile phones.  I’ve heard that professional beggars can make a lot of money during the day and I’m sure a lot of it goes on booze and drugs, not the cup of tea that the cupboard notice says.  By our old office there was the ‘smelly stairs’ – these were a Victorian outside-staircase.  These were not the most clean of stairs to venture down as a lot of people used them as a toilet, taking drugs or other nocturnal going-ons!  Since moving to Covent Garden (the heart of the tourist district) I have seen real homeless people – while walking to walk in the morning I have seen quite a few asleep in sleeping bags outside buildings or in doorways.  I always wonder how and why they are there especially in this day and age as there shouldn’t be anyone homeless (I’m sure some prefer to sleep rough).  Quite a few years ago there was a big campaign about helping the homeless but nowadays I haven’t heard that much about it.  Most people are told not to give money to beggars, which I can understand but I wonder why the focus has changed to their plight.

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2 Responses to “The homeless in London”


  1. 1 Jason December 14, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    My experiences tell me that the homeless problem is mostly a drug addiction/alcoholism and or mental illness problem. Those are really difficult problems to solve, thus the homeless problem is also difficult to solve. Then there are always those who can not be helped, the whole thing is sad really.
    PS- Enjoyed the observations, good luck with the blog.

  2. 2 Michelle Best December 15, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Jason – thanks for the comment and glad you like my observations. I agree with you on the whole thing being sad and like you said some of the homeless don’t want to be help. Shame it has to be like this.


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