meanwhile, in cardboard city ...
Wednesday 25 February 1998
On Monday, Lambeth Council won an eviction order, enabling it to clear the remaining people living in the Bullring roundabout, to make way for a cinema.
Yesterday those left were defending their home amongst the concrete pillars in the dark underpass. Sitting round a brazier they were suspicious and aggressive seeing intruders as a threat to their way of life. "This is our home. You just want to treat us like animals in a zoo," shouted one.
While the life of those sleeping rough is unacceptable to most of us, those who live in Cardboard City feel there is a real sense of community. "People know each other, they have been living together for a long time and it's probably the first time that many of them have had what they feel is a family," says Raekha Prasad of the Big Issue, who befriended some of the residents. "They have named it home."
"People are there from all walks of life, for a whole range of reasons." says Moyra Peralta, a photographer who has been documenting street life since the 1970s and has spent four months in the Bullring. She says that Cardboard City is unique to Britain. "The remaining few who are down there are not happy about being rehoused. They are afraid they are going to lose their bond and their networks. They are feeling terribly upset. They think their whole way of life is going".
Those working to rehouse the homeless say they are trying to do so as sensitively as possible. But those about to be removed remain suspicious. Ms Prasad says: "One guy I spoke to had been there for 15 years said to me `I know it stinks, I know it's shitty, it may seem like hell to you but we've chosen it'."
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