Delighted to read Lord John Bird, founder of the Big Issue has commented on this week's budget. I remember meeting him in Bristol a few years ago at a training school for circus artists that was housed in a converted church!
Obviously one of those encounters you never forget. Yet what it really showed me at the time was that great things can and do happen when we find ways to work together to solve problems.
So I couldn't agree more with his suggestion that we must prioritise prevention for more entrenched causes of poverty like mental health problems rather than wanting simply to relieve the growing homelessness situation.
How many organisations, I wonder though, will really be willing to look beyond themselves and become change makers in this way?
Lord John Bird welcomed parts of this year’s Budget, but also warned the government against “missing the bigger picture” of poverty prevention. The Big Issue’s founder urged the government to “weave prevention into the work of every policy and every department.” Bird welcomed the extra support for vulnerable renters at risk of homelessness and the Housing First pilot schemes to provide rough sleepers with accommodation, but urged communities secretary Sajid Javid to now “go further.” “Housing First can’t be the flagship policy if it’s not combined with an all-out effort to treat people’s inner demons; to cure their mental issues for good,” he said. “Otherwise we’re just treading water – and in the long-term, all we’re doing is moving people from hostel, to A&E, to prison, to the streets.”