Online Petition Causes Uproar At Anti-Homeless Spikes In Southwark

Date Published 25 June 2014

Picture this: The icy rain is driving hard, soaking your patched-up, 'lived-in', fourth-hand anorak. Your matted hair is sticking to your pallid face like plaster. Your fingers, raw from the cold, are lifeless – numb objects. You desperately need shelter, without shelter who knows whether you'll survive the night? You see an alcove in the brickwork, it's perfect; you know you shouldn't sleep there but you're desperate – there's nowhere else to go. Something silver glints in the frosted light, you look down. What are they? Spikes? You understand. You know you're not wanted here, so you walk on in to the night, still searching for shelter – frozen foot first.

To the horror of many, a case emerged last week highlighting the totally inhumane ways that society is willing to ‘manage' rough sleepers in London. Short, yet extremely sharp, steel spikes were placed down outside the main entrance of a privately owned building in Southwark, in order to deter people from sleeping on the premises.

Peter John, leader of Southwark Council stated at the time that they are 'aware of concerns raised regarding the installation of spikes outside a privately owned property . . . we look into any health and safety concerns that are reported to us and tend to act accordingly'.

Images of the spikes began to circulate across social media rapidly, highlighting the powerful effect that websites such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have when it comes to the social side of politics in the modern age. One Twitter user tweeted:
'I can't believe what people are willing to go to to prevent rough sleepers. It's disgusting!'

Given the uproar that the spikes were causing on social media an online petition was soon set up by Harriet Wells, calling for the controversial spikes to be removed. As soon as the petition went live people were signing it and in a matter of hours over 130,000 (the petitions' target) had signed it, meaning the petition had achieved its goals and demanded political attention. Consequently, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, spoke out and agreed that they had to go; thus, resulting in the inevitable success of Wells's campaign with the removal of the spikes some hours later.
The spikes were removed after the 130,000 signature petition was approved Boris Johnson

For more information on how you can help tackle and deal with homelessness in the UK visit the Crisis charities website. Or call: 0300 636 1967