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Lockdown London leaves the homeless exposed – literally

Blog | By Harry Mount | Mar 24, 2020

A homeless lady (right) on a bench at the junction of Great Titchfield Street and Oxford Street (Credit: Harry Mount)

Central London is empty except for the poor souls with no home to go to, says Harry Mount

One of the many tragedies of the coronavirus is how exposed it has left the homeless – literally.

They aren't just exposed to the elements. There's no one around to help them out either. But also, in the empty city, they stand out more than ever because they're almost the only people around. There are a few workers but they're moving from home to office. The homeless remain rooted in their normal spots, like stationary figures trapped in one of those films where others pass by in a blur.

As these last still figures on the streets of the central London, they loom that much larger. So often we wrongly consign the homeless to the backdrop of our busy lives. But now they are prominent and in the foreground – and they are everywhere.

There's the elderly man sitting disconsolately by the side of the Regent's Canal on my way into work. There's another younger man, meticulously building a night shelter out of cardboard in the porch of a shop on Margaret Street. And here, in this picture, there's a lady sitting on a bench at the junction of Great Titchfield Street and Oxford Street – usually one of the busiest streets in the world; now occupied by this poor lady and a group of pigeons, billing and cooing in a spring mating ritual.

It is impossibly sad. Pray God this crisis will end soon and these poor souls find a way out of their predicament.