Tim said: ‘We were a good community sleeping in that tunnel. There was no mess, no drinking, no drugs and no rowdy behaviour. But now our group has been broken up and we have nowhere to sleep. We are condemned to stop being rough sleepers and instead to become “rough walkers”.’
Laura Hughes, a friend of Tim’s, checks up on his welfare regularly and provides him with support. She said: ‘This is a human rights violation, it’s part of the hostile environment towards homeless people and it’s social cleansing.’
Rough sleeping in the London borough of Westminster increased by 16% between April 2018 and March 2019. During that period outreach workers recorded 2,512 people sleeping rough compared with 2,165 the previous year.
In June, Westminster council boarded up an area outside the McDonald’s in Victoria Street to ‘keep rough sleepers away’.