Problem one: On a very cold and icy day last winter I was in Leeds city centre and went into Leeds Art Gallery for the first time (as I had some time to spare before the appointment).
I was horrified to find a hugely over heated enormous waste of space with what I can only describe as pompously and pretentiously described works of trash on the walls.
The thought that my and other people’s council tax may have been used to pay for this made my blood boil.
Problem two: So many people are sleeping rough on the streets in the bitter cold.
Answer to problem one and two: Turn down the heating, and put all the ‘art’ into a smaller area (probably about a quarter of the currently used space, and don’t waste money on any more).
Fill the remaining empty space with camp beds. Use the cafe as a soup kitchen in the early morning and evening. Toilet facilities are there already and I’m sure it wouldn’t be too difficult to install a couple of showers.
The project/facility could be advertised on billboards and buses etc.
My mum said shelters like these during the war, even with bombs falling and rationing, could be set up in a couple of days.
If the councillors, MPs and ‘art critics’ had to spend even one night on the streets in winter, never mind for their foreseeable futures, as so many people do, I am sure they would soon re-assess their priorities.
The councillors and MPs could be sponsored to spend, for example, three nights in a row on the streets and in doing so raise money for the homeless and drug and alcohol help groups. The publicity and funds raised would be of enormous help to those in need (and on a slightly cynical note it wouldn’t do them any harm come election time).
Or keep the art gallery as it is from April to September and use it as a shelter from October to March?
This is not rocket science. It is cheap, practical, easily do-able and very much needed. All it takes is those in the well paid jobs with the power to say yea or nay to be willing.
What is your conscience telling you as you go to sleep in your nice warm home tonight?
Mrs M Kitson
Westwood Way, Boston Spa