Homeless Poles living on barbecued rats and alcoholic handwash

Saturday, August 14, 2010
By Paul Martin

Charity says that migrants from eastern Europe who do not qualify for benefits are sleeping rough in appalling conditions

Randeep Ramesh
Guardian.co.uk
Thursday 12 August 2010

Homeless migrants from eastern Europe in London who are unable to get benefits have become so impoverished that they are eating rats and drinking lethal cocktails of alcoholic handwash, a homeless charity has warned.

Jeremy Swain, chief executive of Thames Reach, one of UK’s biggest homeless charities, said he had been appalled by the conditions of destitute rough sleepers from new EU states, who now make up more than a quarter of those on the streets of the capital.

“We have come across homeless Poles in north London barbecuing rats. We have to explain to them that unlike the rats back home, in London they would be full of poison. The health risks are enormous,” he said.

A camp that was home to half a dozen Polish rough sleepers was closed down in March. The Guardian spoke to Megan Stewart of Thames Reach outreach team who found the site. She visited on three occasions and found people eating cooked rats, which had either been toasted over a fire or stewed in a pot.

“It was the worst thing I had seen in three decades of working with the homeless,” said Stewart.

The Rest…HERE

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