Space Not Spikes

By Kate Hassett

Space Not Spikes
A London initiative is changing the way their city 'solves' issues of homelessness.

In an initiative to curb the growing sentiment towards homelessness – as perceived by their local council, a group of Londoners are providing safe and supportive spaces for homeless people to exist.

The collective called ‘Space, Not Spikes’ is seeking to solve the entrenched prejudice against the homeless population – evidenced by the installation of ‘homeless spikes’ in public places which act to deter any form of sleeping or sitting in public view.

They have begun by covering a row of spikes, outside Shoreditch nightclub Plastic People, by replacing the metal objects with a comfortable bed and providing a library of free books.

The project is aimed at reversing what the initiative calls the council’s “intended purpose to run out the disadvantaged from certain neighbourhoods”.

“Living in a city, we bumble along from place to place in tightly martialed lines. We’re told where we can walk, where we can sit, where we are welcome but only if we spend money. Or have it. It makes us neurotic and engenders a deep sense of ‘otherness’ in anyone who chooses to or simply cannot buy in to what currently passes for society and leisure,” the collective said of the Space, Not Spikes project on the Better Than Spikes Tumblr page.

These designs that prohibit homeless people from seeking shelter do nothing to solve the problem of homelessness, instead they act to further endanger the lives of those seeking refuge – as well as extend social stigmatism.

Whilst the project isn’t solving homelessness either, it is providing a sense of solidarity to those suffering from the growing issue and aims to call out the injustice of governmental policy surrounding homelessness.

“[The world] won’t always be happy-clappy because positive social change needs constructive conflict and debate,” explained Borromeo, one of the members of the ‘Space’ collective. “But we need to call out injustice and hypocrisy when we see it.”



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