by New Worker correspondent
THE ANTI-CAPITA|LIST protesters currently occupying the churchyard of St Paul’s Cathedral have found an increasing number of London’s homeless joining them for the sake of food, warmth, security and companionship.
So the protesters are opening a “welfare centre” tent. They are appealing to charities and individuals with expertise in social work, counselling, drug and alcohol services, welfare housing and mental health issues to work voluntarily at the centre.
The encampment already has its own “university”, a bookshop, a kitchen and a visitor information centre.
Malcolm Blackman, who has been at the camp since its start on 15th October, said: “We have a lot of people coming by, stumbling round the tents at night.
“There’s a lot of friendly people here and food. There was a concern that it would undermine the image of the camp. But so far we’ve met every obstacle we’ve come up against, and the welfare centre will be a good way to address this one.”
James McMahon, one of the homeless who has been helped, said he had lived around the cathedral for 10 years. He gets free food cooked by the camp’s chefs, and a canvas roof over his head.
“I asked for a tent and was given one,” he said. “There’s a community here. I have welcomed these people to my home and they have welcomed me. There’s people I can sit with, eat with and have a conversation with. It’s the most human contact I’ve had in 10 years.”
The Corporation of London and the St Paul’s authorities have now granted the encampment permission to stay until after Christmas.