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UK News

Christian group preparing for huge rise in homelessness as ban on evictions comes to an end

by Tola Mbakwe

A Christian homeless charity has warned there will be a "significant rise" in homelessness once the Government's ban on evictions in England and Wales ends on 23rd August. 

The ban was originally in place until 25th June but was extended to Sunday. 

Ealing Soup Kitchen, which operates St John's Church in Ealing, London for the homeless and vulnerable, told Premier Christian News it's getting ready to serve a huge influx of people. 

Andrew McLeay from the charity said: "We're trying to see where we can put people. Obviously, we're not in the business of shaming individuals or landlords for doing what they feel they need to do, but it still leaves people now out in the cold effectively. 

"Now we're trying to work alongside the council and trying to work alongside private businesses and individuals who have contacts with that area."

Meanwhile, McLeay said he has already started to see more people needing help as some landlords have been evicting tenants anyway. 

"The ban on evictions is something that is slightly controversial anyway because we've found that quite a few of the people who are in private accommodation have already been evicted despite the bans," he said. 

"Quite a few of the guys that come along feel a little nonchalant, I suppose, about the whole process because they feel as though the government already let them down already not doing what they promised that we're going to do."

A group of 21 MPs have written to the rough sleeping minister Luke Hall, demanding that the government ensures local authorities can fund accommodation for the homeless for at least one year.

"Some local authorities are in the process of confirming and funding accommodation for rough sleepers for another year, however it is so important that all councils are able to provide this," they wrote. 

"We cannot put a cut-off on showing all those in need compassion at this time."

The letter signed by Labour, DUP and Lib Dem MPs, also called for the Vagrancy Act, which criminalises begging on streets, to be abolished. 

"We need to treat all rough sleepers with as much compassion as possible at any time, and especially in the present circumstances - there is no need for the Act to remain in place," they added. 

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government said: "The Government has taken unprecedented action to support the most vulnerable people in our society during the pandemic.

"Nearly 15,000 rough sleepers have been housed in emergency accommodation since the beginning of the pandemic.

"We've also ensured no tenants have been evicted at the height of Covid.

"We will continue to provide appropriate support to those who have been particularly affected by coronavirus when court proceedings start again including the requirement for landlords to provide more information about their tenants' situation when seeking an eviction, with judges able to adjourn a case if this information isn't provided."

McLeary urged Christians to be praying for the vulnerable during this time. 

"This recession has meant that there are people who are coming to our soup kitchens now who wear suits," he said. 

"There are families with many, many children who come to the soup kitchen now in the line, waiting for a takeaway, which never used to happen. 

"So we're expecting double, triple the numbers that we had before which is sad. 

"We just need to remember them and hold them up [in prayer]. They are no doubt God's children and hopefully God's going to really work miracles through our charity." 

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