London Assembly’s Biggs hunt for rough sleepers on streets

VOLUNTEERS on their nightly rescue mission to reach rough sleepers were joined by London Assembly member John Biggs in their campaign to help the homeless. City Hall’s East London representative saw the harsh conditions that rough sleepers face on his crisis tour

By Mike Brooke

VOLUNTEERS on their nightly rescue mission to reach rough sleepers were joined by London Assembly member John Biggs in their campaign to help the homeless.

City Hall's East London representative saw the harsh conditions that the East End's rough sleepers face on his fact-finding crisis tour.

"I was moved by what I saw," he said. "Our ability to be shocked has declined with 24-hour media.

"We see it as 'normal' when a person is sleeping on the street and make assumptions it happens through choice or is self-inflicted, then walk the other way."


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But he warns: "Life is rarely that simple. Many left on the streets will not survive long."

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The Assembly member was invited by volunteers from the Thames Reach homeless charity to join their street rescue service on a night-time patrol in the East End.

They visited several rough sleeping sites and met some of those living on the street.

Most can point back to a life when they had a roof over their head and the support of others, he found.

Biggs now plans to press London Mayor Boris Johnson to "keep his promise" to end rough sleeping by 2012.

He is also urging people to volunteer and help Thames Reach, tackle London's chronic 'rough sleeper' crisis directly.

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