What do you get a royal couple for a wedding gift?
It’s a tricky question. For comedian and activist Russell Brand, the answer is: a homeless shelter.
That’s right. Brand has launched a campaign on petition site Change.org to get Prince Harry and Meghan Markle a present they certainly won’t forget in a hurry.
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The petition is addressed to Slough Council, after controversial calls earlier this month for homeless people living on the streets of Windsor, in the neighbouring borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, to be moved in the lead up to the royal wedding.
“This is the perfect way to ensure that love and community trump selfishness and profit as well as being the perfect wedding present for a cool couple,” wrote Brand on the change.org petition. “Let’s face it, what else can we give them? They must have enough toasters.”
And already, in just one day, more than 18,000 people have agreed with him.
Prince Harry and American actress Markle are set to get married in a chapel within Windsor Castle, and the occasion is expected to draw huge crowds.
But to prepare for the crowds, Simon Dudley, the council leader for the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, wrote a letter to the commissioner of the Thames Police asking for action to put a stop to “aggressive begging and intimidation in Windsor.”
Dudley said it was “becoming increasingly concerning to see the quantities of bags and detritus that those begging are accumulating and leaving on our pavements.” He added that the “whole situation also presents a beautiful town in a sadly unfavourable light.”
Brand is now calling on Slough Council for a “change of use” for a building in the town, to allow it to be converted into a shelter to be run by homeless charity Slough Homeless Our Concern (SHOC).
Brand writes that SHOC, a charity he says he has been involved with for a number of years, is being made homeless by Slough Council.
“Many of the rough sleepers swept out of Windsor as a result of Councillor Simon Dudley’s proposed economic cleanse in preparation of Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle will need SHOC and other local facilities to care for them,” wrote Brand.
“As a wedding present for Harry and Meghan and as a rebuke to the low frequency conduct of Councillor Dudley and any who would further victimise the vulnerable,” he added, “we are asking that Slough Council agree to a ‘change of use’ for a building in the town that will enable SHOC to have a new home.”
He added that “it will cost them nothing but the ink in the pen to commit to a ‘change of use’ for this building.”
More than 300,000 people in Britain — one in every 200 people — are officially recorded as being homeless or living in inadequate housing, according to the homeless organisation Shelter.
Additionally, as of autumn 2016, there were an estimated over 4,100 people a night sleeping rough on England’s streets — double the number in 2010, and 16% more than the previous year, according to the BBC.
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