Pro IQRA News Updates.
A four-day hunger strike aimed at drawing attention to the plight of people in London experiencing homelessness has ended with the city and advocates saying they have reached a consensus.
After two days of meetings, the newly formed advocacy group The Forgotten 519 and officials with the City of London said in a statement on Friday night that they agree that medium and long-term solutions are needed to help people find permanent housing.
They said they are mainly focusing on how to address the needs of people living in encampments, including how city bylaw officers respond to outdoor encampments.
From now on, the group of agreed bylaw officers will only be involved at the request of frontline workers. Other immediate actions include providing water, which will be paid for by the city, and setting up one or more shower trailers at a location yet to be determined.
“TheForgotten519 is overwhelmed and grateful to their community for making these urgent actions possible. We stand in solidarity with all the frontline workers and in solidarity with the solutions we collectively reached today,” The Forgotten 519 said in a statement said.
Several people showed their support for improved services, including 147 people who met with the city for the first time. That number was later scaled down to a smaller working group of 30.
“We are grateful for the willingness of agencies from across the system to come together,” said Kevin Dickins, Deputy City Manager, Social and Health Development City of London.
“The perspectives of frontline workers, who see and experience first-hand the impact of a system that is stretched and broken, are essential in this process. These have been difficult conversations.”
Both groups agreed that more funding is needed, and they will continue to support both levels of government.
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Dan Oudshoorn, an outreach worker for people experiencing homelessness, began a hunger strike on Tuesday. During the week he was joined by others in tents outside the town hall. A rally was also held on Thursday to support efforts to make change for the city’s vulnerable.
The Forgotten 519 group says more than 30 people have died this year as a result of homelessness.
“There are preventable deaths that are happening right now, and there are immediate steps that can be taken to stop those preventable deaths – and that’s why we’re taking this action,” Oudshoorn said on Tuesday.