'Joy' over plans for ex-Ford land

Dr Leonard Restall B Ed, M Ed (Hons), New Zealand, formerly from Barking, writes:

The more pleasant report for this week is the one made by the mayor of London, Mr Khan, which will be a lifesaver to the many people desperately wanting to own their own home (Post).

It is in the form of assisting with the purchase of a former industrial site used by Ford to build 1,500 affordable homes.

This announcement will bring much joy to many young couples eagerly awaiting this sort of windfall who have dreamed of a home of their own.

The announcement by Mr Khan is made more gratifying by a £80 million grant from the mayor’s special fund being given to purchase the 45-acre site, previously occupied and used by Ford and which may eventually provide 3,000 spaces for homes.

This scheme is well supported by the local council and will relieve much of the housing shortage in the local district.

This site is described by Mr Khan as most exciting and should develop into a thriving neighbourhood, giving adequate space for good spacing and being close enough to the Dagenham Dock railway station.

This project has all the features similar to what caused the Becontree estate to be built nearly a century ago, also as a result of a critical housing shortage, which became a model for other large council projects to follow.

Councils are elected to serve the people in their district and this action by the mayor of London is a glorious example of benevolence being given the highest degree of priority and thus serving those unable to serve themselves with housing.

Definition of homelessness

Colin Newman, Barking, full address supplied, writes:

Your article on street sleeping, rough sleeping and homelessness (Post) could cause some confusion because of the terms used without explanation and with different categories of homelessness apparently compared as if they were the same thing.

The article gov.uk/guidance/homelessness-data-notes-and-definitions says: “Rough sleepers are defined for the purposes of rough sleeping counts and estimates as:

“ – people sleeping … in the open air (such as on the streets, in tents, doorways, parks, bus shelters or encampments) [and]

“ – people in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as stairwells, barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats, stations, or ‘bashes’).

“The definition does not include people in hostels or shelters, people in campsites …, squatters or travellers.”

As can be seen from this, rough sleeping and sleeping on the streets are not the same thing.

Another article – gov.uk/government/publications/homelessness-applying-all-our-health/homelessness-applying-all-our-health – clearly explains homelessness, which is a much broader category than rough sleeping – it says “homelessness does not just refer to people who are sleeping rough” and further:

“The following housing circumstances are examples of homelessness:

  • “rooflessness (without a shelter of any kind, sleeping rough)
  • “houselessness (with a place to sleep but temporary, in institutions or a shelter)
  • “living in insecure housing (threatened with severe exclusion due to insecure tenancies, eviction, domestic violence, or staying with family and friends – known as ‘sofa surfing’)
  • “living in inadequate housing (in caravans on illegal campsites, in unfit housing, in extreme overcrowding).”

I hope that you will be clear in future reporting.

Tackling violence against women

Barking and Dagenham Post: Floral tributes left at the bandstand in Clapham Common for murdered Sarah EverardFloral tributes left at the bandstand in Clapham Common for murdered Sarah Everard (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

Unmesh Desai, London Assembly member, City and East London, writes:

Like millions of Londoners, my thoughts are with Sarah Everard’s family and loved ones at this time.

The stark and wholly unacceptable reality is that women and girls are routinely subject to abuse and violence, and often have to take an exhaustive list of precautions against this in their daily lives.

Let’s be clear, if we are to address the sheer scale of this problem, the onus needs to put upon men to change their behaviour.

This is why, as a first step towards this, I am backing calls for misogyny to be made a hate crime.

As a further step, the government must also introduce a Domestic Abusers’ Register – something that the London Assembly has long been campaigning for.

What happened at the vigil in Clapham has rightly caused a great deal of concern. There are now a number of enquiries that will get to the bottom of the issues.

We must now see a step change in how our society, education system and the police tackles violence against women and girls.

Stress Awareness Month

Phaedra Perry, regional head, Diabetes UK, writes:

April is Stress Awareness Month and we know that having to manage a condition like diabetes, on top of the strain the last year has put on everyone, can cause even greater stress and anxiety.

Living with diabetes through this pandemic – where people with the condition are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they develop coronavirus – has been, for many, overwhelming.

Although stress doesn’t cause diabetes, it can affect your blood sugar levels and how you look after your condition.

Thankfully, though, there are things you can do to make it easier to cope and Diabetes UK has plenty of resources which can help.

If you want support on how to change the way you react so things feel better, try the Stress Manager tool on the Diabetes UK’s online Learning Zone.

You’ll also get a warm welcome and support from others with diabetes on our online support forum.

Both the Stress Manager tool and the forum can be found at the Diabetes UK website: diabetes.org.uk

If you’d prefer to talk to someone, you can chat to one of our trained advisors. They have counselling skills and can be contacted via our helpline on 0345 123 2399 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm) or by emailing helpline@diabetes.org.uk.

It doesn’t matter what causes you stress, it is getting support to manage it that’s important.

So please take that first step during Stress Awareness Month if you feel you need to.