These images capture the bedrooms where disadvantaged children sleep and live across London.
Bedrooms of London is a new photographic exhibition at the Foundling Museum and documents the living conditions of London’s children who are living in poverty.
In partnership with The Childhood Trust, the series of photographs by artist Katie Wilson are accompanied by often-heartbreaking narratives of how families manage in such situations.
Some of the tragic photographs and narratives display cots crammed in tiny spaces next to kitchenettes and expose how parents are forced to wash clothes in the shower.
Other children, like newborn Jane and her mother Amelie who live in a bedsit at a hostel and are kept awake at night due to nightly parties, late-night disturbances and chronic substance abuse from next-door-neighbours, in a city where total poverty and wealth live side by side.
Bedrooms of London looks at the shocking existence of home life for the 700,000 children currently living beneath the poverty line in the city.
There are more than 1 million families waiting for social housing in England, and shelter figures reveal that around 1.15 million households are on waiting lists, with approximately 290,000 homes made available.
Around two-thirds (65 per cent) of families have been on lists for more than a year, while 27 per cent had been waiting for more than five years.
Six London authorities were amongst the top 10 councils with the greatest shortfall, with areas including Brighton, Blackpool and Strood in Kent also struggling.
In Newham, east London, 25,729 households were on the waiting list, with only 588 social homes free, and in Brighton and Hove there were 24,392 families on lists, and only 949 homes available, and the gap has been created by a shortage of newbuild social homes, and many existing homes being sold off through the right to buy scheme and not being replaced.
And the fact that some survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire were still homeless a year on from the accident has completely swayed people’s confidence in the safety net the state apparently provides.
Imagine how frustrating life must be for the millions of people elsewhere in the country who have been stuck on waiting lists, for years on end, and it’s not only restricted to London but happening right across the country, from Brighton to Blackpool, families who are unable to get settled and unable to get on with their lives.
The Grenfell disaster should have marked a turning point in the nation’s approach to social housing and its tenants, and there should have been a bold new plan for social housing so families were not sentenced to waiting lists but given reliable, safe and affordable housing as soon as possible.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government stated more than 357,000 new affordable properties had been delivered since 2010, and it stated it would be investing an additional £9 billion in affordable homes, including £2 billion to help councils and housing associations build properties for social rent, while also giving councils the capability to acquire £1 billion to build new properties in areas with the highest affordability constraints.
The £2 billion was pledged by Theresa May but critics, including Tory council leaders, announced it wasn’t enough to fix Britain’s housing dilemma, but then we have the Royals who live off benefits paid by the taxpayer, yet those renters in council houses are classified as subordinate subjects and commoners, and this is where class distinction and out-and-out pomposity will remain strong and healthy in the United Kingdom for as long as the Queen and her jobless family rule these subordinate subjects.
The Monarchy has sometimes been defined as the most expensive institution, with Royal finances shrouded in complexity and secrecy, and about £10 million from the Queen’s private estate was paid into the Cayman Islands and Bermuda between 2004 and 2005, and a leak, which saw millions of documents published and exposed how the powerful and rich have secretly invested large sums in offshore tax havens.
And while Britons are all expected to pay tax either directly, through contributions, such as National Insurance and Income Tax, or indirectly through things such as VAT, the Queen is an exception.
One of the perks of being monarch is that she is officially excluded from UK tax laws, but despite this, in 1992 the Queen decided to voluntarily start paying income tax and capital gains tax, however before this, she did not.
It’s not the culmination of her investments, it’s not a question of tax avoidance, but of judgement on behalf of her advisors, and it’s remarkable and perplexing that her advisers could have felt that it was fitting for somebody whose reputation is based so much on setting a good example to invest in these offshore funds.
The Queen should, of course, apologise for her adviser’s investment decisions because anyone that’s putting money into tax havens in order to evade taxation in Britain, should either apologise, but further realise what it does to our society.
If a really rich person wants to evade taxation in Britain and therefore puts money into a tax haven somewhere, who loses? Schools, hospitals, housing, all those public services lose and the rest of the people have to pay to cover up the shortfall created by that.
Eventually, people will no longer have the right to live in their council home for life as ministers impose a five year limit on new tenancies. It’s likely to break up communities because the government has unobtrusively tabled an amendment to the housing and planning bill that sets a maximum of five-year terms for new secure tenancies.
This policy brings an end to the principle of council tenancies for life in which people were sometimes allowed to pass on the right to live in the home to their next of kin, and even though it doesn’t apply retrospectively to current contracts, those who inherit tenancy of council housing will be subjected to the new regime.
It was David Cameron who first indicated that he would like to make such a move as long ago as 2010 when he proposed it could assist to improve social mobility, and of course, not everyone will support this and it will cause quite a big argument, and in future when you’re given a council home, you should ask if it’s for a fixed period because maybe in five or ten years down the line you might be doing a different job and be paid better money, and you won’t need that home because as far as they’re concerned you can now afford to go into the private sector, but it won’t stop there!
People are now being told that if they work, and it doesn’t matter how much they get, they’re not classed as needing social housing because they work, and that’s enough for them, even if they are below the breadline, and now new legislation forces councils to offer all new tenants contracts of between two and five years.
At the end of the fixed term, local authorities will have to carry out a review of the tenant’s circumstances to determine whether to grant a new tenancy, move the tenant into another more suitable social rented property, or end the tenancy.
Where the local authority decides to end the tenancy, they will be expected to provide support the tenant into home ownership or to assist them access other housing options, whichever is suitable, but this is startling that ministers have legislated to deny families a permanent home.
Margaret Thatcher passed a law that gave council tenants secure tenancies, which David Cameron then ripped up, with these Tory ministers seeming to have a vendetta against council tenants and council homes.
These pictures look like prison cells with precious few amenities, so welcome to Toryland where things can only get worse, and clearly, these aren’t the good times that David Cameron promised us, we’re still waiting for those – well, actually these are the good times, wait until Brexit is concluded!
Or perhaps we’ve simply been spoiled because before and following the war children would have to eat gravel if they were starving, and people lived in worse conditions growing up, but then these aren’t war times and things should have got better because now we’re simply descending into the depths of poverty.
People whine about people on benefits having an iPhone but most people have a pay as you go phone, people who can just manage this months gas and electric bill, and some who don’t actually own a TV, don’t smoke and the only drugs that they’re on are prescription drugs required to keep them moving and alive.
Some homes are damp, have mildew and are drafty in the winter, and don’t have many chattels. I wonder where these people are going wrong because they would love the amount of money the Tories get and can afford an iPhone.
Propaganda is a wonderful thing as far as the press are concerned, but you shouldn’t believe all the drivel they elbow down your throat, and most but not all justify the cuts and abuse from the DWP and capita, and they do it to justify the governments next pay rise, which they don’t deserve, they deserve a pay cut of 30 per cent to help pay off the countries debt.
There might be some people out there that was one of ten children, born during the war and slept three to a bed, shared clothes and were really poor, but this is not war, this is the 21st century, and people just don’t know how to live like this, they’re not used to it, and maybe we have been spoilt, but instead of going backwards, we should be going forward, and many of these people are living in hostels, that’s why it’s called a housing crisis because there are not enough affordable homes, not only in London but elsewhere as well.
This is Britain in complete denial, this is Britain with a government that is not fit to run a toilet, and the Tory party should be removed before they grind us all to the depths of the sewers from where they crawled from to punish those in need of help, and it wouldn’t matter if thousands of children a week were dying through dictatorial policies, there would still be shallow, ignorant indoctrinated jerks who would still vote Tory.
I’m not saying that everyone is shallow or ignorant, but I would love to hear from at least 10 people on what they believe is causing this major issue in this country, where people have lost their jobs or the DWP has messed up again, which leads to more poverty, eviction and having to live in crack holes like these.
This is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet most elderly people have to live on pensions in the United Kingdom, and it’s a riotous jungle out with the government raking in millions, while the preponderance of people out there are broke, and it’s about to get worse.
This is not a third world country, and I bet our MPs wouldn’t live like that, they don’t live like that, and that’s mental cruelty by our government, and Charles Dickens would be horrified.