Belfast Telegraph

Ross Kemp says homelessness crisis has been ‘stuffed under the carpet’

The former EastEnders star hosts a new documentary about rough sleepers in the UK.

Ross Kemp says homelessness crisis has been ‘stuffed under the carpet’ (Isabel Infantes/PA)
Ross Kemp says homelessness crisis has been ‘stuffed under the carpet’ (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Ross Kemp has said he feels that the homelessness crisis in the UK has been “stuffed under the carpet”, blaming authorities for allowing that to happen.

The former EastEnders star and documentary filmmaker, who immerses himself into homeless situations in a new TV programme, said that he sees many homeless people on the streets on a daily basis.

Kemp, 54, told The Big Issue magazine: “I think things have been stuffed under the carpet and I think people in authority have allowed that to happen, and it’s wrong.

“I walk from Holborn Tube station down to the offices I’m in now virtually every day and you can see it on the streets. So to read that there was a 2% drop in rough-sleeping when I see 11 to 12 people every day didn’t f***ing add up and it still doesn’t add up because you can’t count them the way that (Minister for Housing and Homelessness) Heather Wheeler wants to count them.

“Just because you can make a statement that we come in with a homeless count of zero doesn’t mean that there are zero rough-sleepers – that doesn’t make sense to me.”

Referring to a comment made by Mrs Wheeler in an email in 2017, where she called homeless people in her constituency “the traditional type, old tinkers, knife-cutters”, Kemp added: “The fact that you can refer to them as ‘tinkers and knife cutters’ is at worst racist and at best ignorant. So, not impressed with that. That was a shock to me, honestly.”

South Derbyshire MP Mrs Wheeler recently apologised for the comment, which had been sent to a homeless charity before she became a minister and was uncovered in Kemp’s documentary.

Kemp said of his documentary, Living With Homelessness, that it is not “an anti-government film, this is just a film about the way it is”.

He added: “I thought particularly with homelessness, when you’re told that it has gone down, if you ask any person they’ll all say it’s gone up because they’ve seen it.”

On going undercover in the programme, TV star Kemp said that he found it “interesting” to be ignored for several hours.

“When I’m out and about, I rarely get ignored, even this morning I did about five or six selfies on the Tube,” he said.

“I’m used to being acknowledged either positively or negatively. It was very interesting for me as a human being to be totally unengaged for those four hours.

“And also the only person who really came and spoke to me was someone who wanted to sell me Spice.”

Ross Kemp: Living With Homelessness airs on July 25 at 7.30pm on ITV.

The Big Issue, sold by vendors to lift themselves out of poverty, is available across the UK from Monday for £2.50.

PA

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