You've been sent here from - find out about the change

What do you do when your photo is retweeted 26,000 100,000 times and Sky News phone?

They were a few simple photos that I thought my friends might be interested in, maybe they’d feel a bit of the anger I did when I took them. Maybe we’d have a chat on Twitter about our rage, and then get on with the rest of our working days. But within 48 hours, my photos had been shared 26,000 100,000 times on Twitter; been picked up by all the major UK newspapers and broadcasters online; I’d been interviewed by the Press Association and The Telegraph, appeared on Sky News, and been invited to be appear live on LBC radio. Today I’ve already taken a call from ITV News and I’m on Jeremy Vine at 12.30pm.

My story has gone viral…

On my normal walk to work about ten days ago, I noticed some metal studs in the ground near the sheltered entrance to a pretty typical block of flats. After a while it occurred to me that these were probably* installed to prevent homeless people sleeping rough.

*yes they were.

Studs 2

Such a vile thought was enough for me to get my phone out and snap a picture. A live debate immediately kicked off on Twitter. David Wells tweeted: ‘These anti-homeless studs are like the spikes they use to keep pigeons off buildings. The destitute now considered vermin.’ But others wanted to defend their use, Gavin Logan tweeted: ‘There will be a context behind those anti-homeless spikes. Possibly a last resort against someone who was aggressive and refused housing.’

I don’t consider myself to be much of a social activist but there I was on Sky News being asked what I wanted to see happen now. Did I want to see the studs removed? My own actions, and this wave of responses were taking me on a journey. An inspired journey which is motivating me to want something bigger than just get the studs removed.

I don’t want this to just be seen as ‘socially unacceptable’.

I’d like it to be ‘legally unacceptable’ as well.

Why can’t we legislate against this?

That would be the real victory.

Some have argued that it’s not illegal to put studs on private property – that business or property owners have a right to prevent rough sleepers who may leave a mess or be an eyesore to some. But what’s the thinking behind putting studs there? Surely some nice plants would suffice, look less ugly and, most importantly not send out an offensive message. Do we really want to see homeless people treated like vermin? Is that what we think they actually are? Don’t we believe that they, like us, could be so much more?

We’re not going to solve the homelessness problem in our towns and cities by creating physical deterrents to sleeping rough. There are other options. The Lighthouse in Woking, where I live is just one of those places. 

I don’t want this to just go down as a ‘Twitter outrage’ story, studied by journalism students across the country – here today, but forgotten tomorrow. If we’re serious about trying to transform this country for the good, then we can start by looking after our most vulnerable. Not just retweeting about it, actually doing something greater.

For me that involves thinking, speaking and serving. Figuring out, ‘Who is my neighbour?’ then trying to take small personal steps towards honouring my convictions, honouring one another, and in doing so honouring God.

Ironically, I’ve been pretty bad at stopping to speak to homeless people or helping them out. A month or so ago I was really cut up after a guy came up to me and asked me for some money and I said :‘Sorry, I’m about to catch a lift somewhere’. I walked away and turned around to see him crying against the railings of the train station. I resolved to not be so ineffective next time. It seems a couple of photos I took have catapulted me into a position to speak out, to do what I can and make a difference. What will you do today?

‘The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want.’ Mark 14:7

‘And what does the Lord require of you?
 To act justly and to love mercy 
and to walk humbly with your God.’ Micah 6:8

You can follow Andrew @worldviewmedia. 

Have you signed the Rough Night petition? We’re calling on the government to take action to help those sleeping on the streets. 


UPDATE: London Mayor Boris Johnson joins the debate:



    I agree with everything youve said. Its backwards thinking to have these things in existance and for what? Its certainly not development and its not sustainable for humanity.

    Care, share and be fair! Love your neighbour whatever shape or form.

    Homelessness can be sorted with principles of love and acts of kindness! Were all responsible so we can all do something to rid it once and for all!

    Brilliant blog Andrew. Thank you for taking those pictures and starting a much-needed conversation!

    Thanks, Dot. 🙂

    I think it is important to focus no both parts here. Yes, its not Nice to have spikes to prevent homeless people from sleping, but would you like to have people sleeping outside your door everyday. I can understand the developers in their action, and think most of you would as well when having homeless people on your doorstep every morning.

    Fascinating article Andrew and amazing to see how your photo sparked such a huge response!

    Andrew I assume you have some homeless people staying with you right now?

    Hi John,

    Yes, it’s an interesting question. No, I don’t have homeless people living in my house right now. I do wrestle with that though.

    I guess, if there were people sleeping rough in the entrance to my flats I’d probably invite them in for tea/food etc.

    But is this about temporary measures?

    I have an average-sized one-bedroom flat. If I took a rough sleeper in it’d ideally be for a short period of time – with a view to helping them ‘get their life back on track’ and get their own housing and employment.

    It’s really tricky though isn’t it?! This story has really got people thinking. I hope by posting these photos I’m heading in the right direction in terms of living and speaking like Jesus – even if I’m not there yet.

    I’d value more specificity about where you’re coming from. Do I presume that you have homeless people living in your home right now?

    If so, you have my upmost respect!

    I was wondering the same thing, John…but just like with facebook, every hypocrite goes “give a like if this appalls you”. I am not saying that is not good to blow the whistle, but, what’s the next thing you did, apart from telling us how your pic went viral?!

    Hi Ads,

    Actually, although not strictly ‘the next thing’, last night I had a homeless person sleeping on my sofa. 🙂

    I’m getting there!



    Thanks so much. Just a small niggly thing. When using scripture can you use a verse in its context. Mark 14 is not about helping the poor it’s about Jesus’ death on the cross… The very next line which you seemed to have missed is the most important line in that verse! ‘But you will not always have me.’

    However great job! As I work for a church we are looking to start a food bank ourselves.

    In Him


    Apologies I meant Andrew! John was the name above me!

    Thanks Chris,

    I’m no expert theologian, but i think it’s perfectly valid to use this as I did. After all, the only real context is ‘the whole Bible’! And quoting that would overstep the word count on this post 😉

    But, do suggest other more appropriate verses and I’ll look into them for next time… if there is a next time!




    Thanks for raising awareness on this issue. I live in San Francisco and in a particular neighborhood that is the heart of homeless and mental illness (three mental illness overflow units are just down my street and many more are sprinkled throughout this part of the city). I see more homeless and/or mentally ill people than I do normal folk in a day. The smells that comprise my daily walks are urine and feces. There are many issues that face this group in SF, for example, sleep deprivation, lack of public restrooms and no voice recognition. Additionally, there are real issues as to why they are on the street (i.e. addiction). Something I think we all need to do is to be aware of the issues and ask ourselves how best we can show love. Maybe it is getting involved in our neighborhood, maybe it is simply expressing with kindness and a smile, “I’m sorry, I do not have any cash, but I hope you have a good day.” More than money, my friends on the street seem to appreciate being remembered. They smile back (the ones I do talk to) and simply seem to feel a part of our human race.