50th Anniversary of Cathy come home

November 18, 2016 2:00 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Today is the 50th anniversary of the ground-breaking BBC film Cathy Come Home, the gripping and controversial 1966 film about poverty and homelessness.

The film motivated me to get involved in politics when I saw it as a teenager, and I was pleased to mark today's anniversary by hosting Ken Loach and homeless charities in Parliament for a discussion on tackling homelessness

The gripping and controversial 1966 film tells the story of Cathy and Reg, a couple with three young children who find their life spiralling into poverty when Reg loses his job. Cathy is left homeless and her children are taken away.

At the event in Parliament, I chaired a discussion on the future of homelessness policy with representatives from homelessness charities including Centrepoint, Pathway, and Homeless Link, as well as people who had experienced homelessness themselves and the film's director.

Ken Loach also called for a repeal of the Housing and Planning Act which will increase homelessness, and for improved planning for new jobs in the same locations as new homes.

Cathy Come Home had a profound impact on me as a teenager. I watched it and decided to join Shelter. Then I realised I could do even more by getting involved in politics.

Although in the last 50 years there have been some changes, many of the same issues remain. We should be ashamed that in the 21st Century there are still people sleeping on the streets; many people are refused the support they need and are simply being let down.

There is quite simply a lack of political will to end this crisis, and the Government's approach of reducing council homes and failing to build enough homes is making it worse.

I want to see real action to tackle the housing crisis, improve mental health services, and to properly fund homeless charities and local authorities so they can provide support. The film continues to motivate me today - and I hope many others will see it and get involved.

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