People are loving a mom who got fed up with the 'anti-homeless spikes' in her city.

These are an example of "anti-homeless spikes."

Photo by Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images.

Inviting, huh?


Most of the time, they're designed to be discreet and easy to miss (and that's no accident). Still, you may have spotted them around your own town — maybe outside a business or in a park.

As their name suggests, anti-homeless spikes are intended to keep homeless people away.

Photo by Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images.

They'll usually crop up in areas where a homeless person might find some quiet away from the hustle and bustle, or a spot that's relatively well-sheltered from the elements.

In January 2017, spikes like these appeared outside the Pall Mall Court in Manchester, England. And many people were not happy about it.

“This is not the answer to rough sleeping," Pat Karney, Manchester council spokesman, told the Manchester Evening News of the spikes. "It’s demeaning in that way."

One of those unhappy people was a local woman named Jennie Platt. The Manchester mom — who called the spikes "a Scroogey thing to do" — wasn't about to let the heartless act fly.

As Mashable reported, Platt and her kids decided to give the spikes a more comfortable upgrade.

Platt — with help from her 10- and 11-year-old sons, along with a few of their rugby teammates — covered the spikes with cushions and pillows.

Well done Jennie platt and sedgley park boys

Posted by Colette Stevens on Sunday, January 29, 2017

"The building owners are treating human beings like pigeons," Platt told the BBC, noting she woke up "with a right bee in [her] bonnet" after learning the news and decided she needed to do something.

Platt also left sandwiches and chocolate bars for anyone who could use a snack, encouraging folks to "take a seat and have a bite to eat."

“It’s a spot where people can keep warm and sheltered," explained Platt. "People don’t need to be that mean."

The spikes are right outside Pall Mall Medical, a healthcare facility that rents out a space in the court, which said it had nothing to do with their installment. GVA, the company that manages the building, declined to comment to the Manchester Evening News.

Update Feb. 7, 2017: The spikes have been removed by the building's owner after public outcry, the Manchester Evening News reported.

Unfortunately, the anti-homeless renovation in Manchester is indicative of a larger issue that doesn't stop at spikes.

Governments and businesses alike have sneakily built up anti-homeless infrastructure in urban spaces all around the world.

If you've been to Tokyo, you may have noticed "dangerously slippery" benches designed specifically to be uncomfortable, warding off anyone who wants to rest more than a few moments.  

In places like Salt Lake City and Lincoln, Nebraska, you might come across benches with vertical slats between the seats, made to deter anyone from lying down.

A man saws at an armrest in Toulouse, France, in 2006 in protest of the mistreatment of homeless people. Photo by Eric Cabanis/AFP/Getty Images.

This type of urban planning pushes the problem of chronic homelessness aside without helping to provide a solution.

Shooing away homeless people by building slippery benches, installing excessive armrests, and adding spikes to sidewalks doesn't mean homeless people disappear. It means the most vulnerable among us — many who struggle with mental illness or are living on the street because they can't stay at a shelter — are left unwelcome in larger and larger spaces within our communities. This type of heartless infrastructure only exacerbates the problem.

Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images.

Instead of hoping homeless people disappear, we should focus our attention on ideas that help them in the long run.

Beyond supporting your local homeless shelter by volunteering and donating, you can rally your representatives to join the fight. For example, Housing First — a strategy that provides people with a home quickly and unconditionally, then gives them the resources they need to stand on their own (like help with addiction or career services) — is a model that's been proven to work in several cities and states. Make sure the leaders in your area know you care about this issue and want funding for local initiatives, like Housing First, that make a big difference.

Platt realizes her efforts may be short-lived. But as more people notice her deed, she hopes it will change hearts and minds.

"I know [the cushions] won't last and I know they'll get wet," she said. "But the people who manage that building need to know how to treat people."

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less