Occupy London seeks to set up city welfare programme

By staff writers
November 4, 2011

The Occupy London Stock Exchange camp at St Paul's Cathedral plans to set up a welfare programme to assist vulnerable people joining them.

"After just over two weeks, our tented city standing in the protective shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral is a becoming a real community," OLSX said yesterday. "But we are still part of London and we share some of the problems of that great city."

In a statement, the Occupy activists saidL "London is the fifth wealthiest city in the world and one of the world’s major financial centres – yet, despite this apparent prosperity and technological progress, there are still Londoners without homes, structure and support. What happens in London every day is merely a reflection of the increasing global disparity between rich and poor and unfair distribution of wealth.

"At the same time, the austerity measures imposed in the UK where tax revenues have been used to fund bonuses have led to a further decline in the quality of our society. Essential services are being cut or privatised and those with real and complex needs are being left out in the cold. Now more than ever, those who are homeless or have mental and physical health problems or addiction issues need support from the communities they live in. We are all part of the 99 per cent.

"OccupyLSX is trying be a welcoming space. We hope that people will take the time to talk to each other, help each other out and overcome their differences to create a better society.

"This means that our camp is becoming a beacon for those who feel that they do not have a stake in society, for vulnerable and marginalised people. They and we are all part of the 99 per cent.

"It is often said that you can judge a society by how it treats its most vulnerable members; Occupy London aims to create a better society, but we need your help.

"We will not abandon or ignore the most vulnerable members of our society. We are aware that many vulnerable people are coming to the camp (including people with mental health issues, alcohol and drug problems) and we believe that we have to address these problems head on rather than the ad hoc fashion we have to date. If this camp is to aim to be part of creating a better and more just society we need to tackle these issues pro-actively."

Occupy LSX says it intends to:

* Found a Welfare Centre within the bounds of the camp at St Paul’s, staffed and supported by volunteers with specialist expertise
* Provide access to and signpost mental health advice services, alcohol and drug addition services, rehousing services and more

The group is appealing to all those with relevant skills and experience in social work, counselling, drug and alcohol services, welfare, housing and mental health issues to donate whatever time they can.

It also wants to encourage those who are affected by the issues OLSX are discussing to use this as an opportunity to share their own experiences, express their ideas and organise together for a better future. To that end, they will be hosting events, discussions and debates looking at the important issues through the OLSX Outreach and Tent City University.

* More on OLSX - http://occupylondon.org.uk/


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