'Why I won't vote as a homeless person'

Lorraine says she cannot see how a new government can help her [BBC]

Lorraine, who has been homeless for eight years, has voted all her life.

But now, despite meeting the 68-year-old at the Salvation Army's drop-in service to provide homeless people with an address so they can register to vote, she may not.

"I did really used to care about voting - I believed it was my duty and I wanted to have an opinion on how the country was run," she said.

"Now I live on the streets, I feel I'm not considered a resident as such and it's more difficult."

salvation army
The session at the Salvation Army in Westminster offered advice on how to register to vote [BBC]

She said if homeless people had a place where they could just walk in to vote after having their identity checked, then more homeless people would - that's if "they actually do want the votes from everyone", she added.


Growing up, politics played a part in her upbringing.

"My father was a factory worker, and Labour used to be for the workers, for the masses, and so he used to vote that and my mum would Conservative," she said.

"But now I've lost some sort of belief in that.

"I don't think there's a defined difference between the two main parties. I also think their policies have made my situation worse."

For Lorraine, the ever-increasing pension age has been a factor for her worsening financial state.

"I spent my life thinking I was going to retire at 60, then it was 62, then 64 and it's been creeping up and up.

"I understand the challenges - there are maybe more old people in the workforce than new people coming in - but it's been a real struggle for me."

lorraine and her lunch
Lorraine hopes young people will vote [BBC]

Lorraine said she also believed that the "short-termism" of government policy had made her feel "disheartened".

"It's things like making promises just before an election and they when they don't.... (follow through) that's disheartening," she said.

"I just pray that for those that can vote, especially the young, will turn out and vote.

"We should keep our democracy, rights and loyalty."

dan holland
Dan Holland says homeless people need to have a say in housing and social policy [BBC]

Dan Holland, service manager for Westminster Salvation Army, said he found the people he helped at the drop-in sessions tend not to vote because they either do not have the right ID, an address to be able to register or they felt like their vote would not be heard.

"People experiencing homelessness really need their voice heard because housing and social policy are really important, especially from the new government," he said.

"Firstly, so they can influence homeless policy and secondly, so they can put an end to their experience of homelessness."

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