It’s who you know…by Paul Atherton FRSA

Reported by Paul

Published on Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Emergency Accommodation Human Rights Welfare Benefits

It’s who you know…by Paul Atherton FRSA

Written by Paul

Published on Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Emergency Accommodation

Human Rights

Welfare Benefits

How I prevented my eviction through the people I know rather than the Council doing its job. Why £20 per week changed the world & why the government should keep it tomorrow. And why do we believe Billionaires should get state handouts while Children starve to death. This is not the Britain I grew up in.



When I was growing up, I quickly realised that it was people, not knowledge, that you know. That was the most important thing to getting things done. As I’ve got older that’s become even more important.

As you know a couple of weeks ago I was supposed to be thrown back on to the streets from the emergency accommodation I had here in Marylebone. That didn’t happen, I’m now here until at least the 1st of March. But that didn’t happen because the council were doing the right thing. That didn’t have because the council were doing the lawful thing. That happened because I have friends and colleagues I can communicate with and ask to assist.

A couple of journalist’s phone calls to the PR office suddenly changes people’s minds rather rapidly. A court writ from a respected barrister firm saying, ’Hey, this is against the law’, suddenly has a very different change in tone. And charities rally round, and suddenly all the things that should have happened nine, ten months ago, in respect to my healthcare start to be enacted.

But that’s not how it’s supposed to be. It shouldn’t be because I have built good friendships and networks that I am getting the things are legally supposed to given to me.

This should be driven by the manager of the Housing Solutions service at Westminster council. This should be overseen by the CEO of Westminster council or whatever the equivalent role is.

The law is there in black and white. They know what they have to do but they choose to ignore it. But it shouldn’t be that people get the right protections because they know the right people, it should be that they get the right protections because that is the humane and lawful thing to do.

And it’s an appalling thing to notice that tomorrow the government are voting on whether they should keep the upkeep of the extra £20 per week that they’ve been adding to Universal Credit during Covid. Now we’re still in lockdown, all the problems that existed before lockdown still exist.

But the worst question, the thing that bothers me more is that that shouldn’t even be a discussion, they shouldn’t even be having a vote, it should be pure and simple… of course people need an extra £20.

£20 is nothing. £20 for many of these MPs isn’t even the cost of their breakfast. Yet they’re arguing about whether a family should have an extra £20. And of course the irony for me – and many people like me – is because we’re on the legacy benefits of ESA and PIP and incapacity benefit and DLA, that we didn’t get it at all. And our expenses are even higher than those people’s.

This isn’t how British society should be. We shouldn’t – in the 21st century – be going, ‘Should we give people enough money to eat?’… ‘No, no they’ll probably spend it on things that aren’t what we want them to spend it on, so no we’re not going to give them that.’ As if somehow they should actually have a choice in this.

We should give people enough money to live. End of sports, no discussion, no debates. Enough money to live.

Now people who know me know I’ve been screaming about Universal Basic Income for the last 20 years. This is the notion of paying everyone enough to live in. And that’s everyone, whether you’re in work or out of work, whether you’re disabled or not. I always put it at an average wage of about £24,000 per year.

But the backlash to that is, ‘Oh why should someone get something for nothing?’ And it’s like well it isn’t. And to think like that means you don’t understand the world that you’re inhabiting. We’re forever giving multi-billion pound companies taxpayer’s money and tax breaks and investment funding incentives, and a whole plethora of other things. The very social systems that we have, the welfare systems in tax credits, is allowing businesses to not pay people properly.

So we’re seemingly okay giving welfare to billionaires but giving welfare to poor people, ‘very bad, bad idea, don’t like that at all…welfare to billionaires, totally acceptable, they have lots of money so they should have more. Poor people, starving to death, sod ‘em.’

It’s worst than Scrooge and Dicken’s , A Christmas Carol. It’s like you know ‘let them die, it creates surplus population, hate them all.’

That is not Britain, that is not British society, it’s an Americanism that’s crept into our nation somehow, and we really do need to address it. So as they go into this vote tomorrow, I hope every MP thinks, yes, giving people enough to live on is something that we should aspire to. It’s something that we should be the first in the world to kind of bring in a universal basic income and say, look, we look after our population. Because that’s what’s good for society. It’s what’s good for the whole, it’s not what’s good for a couple of people that have lucked out and managed to accumulate a shed load of wealth.

So another week, and another dollar as they say, or absence of. Lots going on but I will tell you all of that under the banner of a different recording.

But I am crossing fingers that for once, Britain can united and not battle each other, or challenge each other about who should get what, for how much.

And just think £20… if you had £20 in your pocket you’d probably hand it to a homeless person.

So, let’s just do the right thing for once.

Written by Paul

Paul Atherton FRSA is a social campaigning film-maker, playwrightauthor & artist. His work has been screened on the Coca-Cola Billboard on Piccadilly Circus, premiered at the Leicester Square Odeon Cinema, his video-diary has been collected into the permanent collection of the Museum of London, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and was selected as one of the London Library's 2021/22 emerging writers during covid lockdown, where he is currently writing his memoir.

He achieved most of this whilst homeless, an ongoing experience that has been his life for over a decade in London. In the last two years he’s made Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 his bedroom and became part of what he coined the #HeathrowHomeless before being moved into emergency hotel accommodation for the duration of Covid-Lockdown in Marylebone on 3rd April 2020.

In the past ten years he’s experienced every homeless initiative that Charities, Local Authorities and the City has had to offer. All of which clearly failed.

With the end of “Everyone In”, Paul has no idea where his next move is going to be, but he expects he’ll be returning to Heathrow.

Read all of Paul's articles


Emergency Accommodation Human Rights Welfare Benefits