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."

More

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

Keep Reading Show less
Packard Foundation
True

Someday, future Americans will look back on this era of school shootings in bafflement and disbelief—not only over the fact that it happened, but over how long it took us to enact significant legislation to try to stop it.

Five people die from vaping, and the government talks about banning vaping devices. Hundreds of American children have been shot to death in their classrooms, sometimes a dozen or so at a time, and the government has done practically nothing. It's unconscionable.

Keep Reading Show less
Education & Information
via Hollie Bellew-Shaw / Facebook

For those of us who are not on the spectrum, it can be hard to perceive the world through the senses of someone with autism.

"You could think of a person with autism as having an imbalanced set of senses," Stephen Shore, assistant professor in the School of Education at Adelphi University, told Web MD.

"Some senses may be turned up too high and some turned down too low. As a result, the data that comes in tends to be distorted, and it's very hard to perceive a person's environment accurately," Shore continued.

Keep Reading Show less
Education & Information
Truth

Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign, is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

truth
True