Can you lock your door? #Privacy #Social Housing

Now I’d be kidding myself if I was under any illusion that social housing would be in the least bit ‘private’. However anyone, I should have thought, would expect some and believe me I use the word through gritted teeth, but we do except some privacy in a home we’re paying for.

Although whether or not we can keep paying for our little bedsits is an entirely different story all together with the Chancellor now targeting the under 25’s housing benefit, essentially the age you’re liable to be in a hostel. Which as you can gather, living in a hostel, isn’t a deliberate life choice to get away with” scrounging off society” or whatever they think we’re doing. And the very last thing we need to hear is that we’re going to be turned away because we don’t qualify for the housing benefit to cover the rent cost. Thankfully as a full-time student and not getting thrown in and out of work I shouldn’t (watch this space)be effected by the potential shake up.

Anyways that’s beside the point I want to alert you to. Privacy, is the theme for this article, and where the lines of personal privacy is being overstepped under the guise of health and safety (sound familiar?) Allow me to briefly explain the door’s at a YMCA, not a particular thrilling topic yet moderately crucial in understanding how we, residents, can at least feel we have some security.

The doors work through individual magnetised keys, and from the inside of your room you can use the manual lock to seal your door, to prevent anyone with a master key (the staff) entering your room. There are two ways staff can know if you’re in your room, three if you include when you leave the compound and your key at the front desk. The first way is through the internal phone system, they can ring up, get and answer or not. The second way is by walking into your room. Which can cause quite a little controversy among the heavy sleepers not awoken by the phone but to the sound of a rather angry staff member discovering you’ve used the inside lock and locked them out of your own room. Lets keep in mind a bedsit’s only closing doors are the bathroom’s and the entrance’s, not leaving very many places to hide if you’re caught short in your underwear (or not if you’re extremely unlucky.)

Staff say, and I do find this completely exasperating because what’s the point in even having internal locks installed if this is the case, that we shouldn’t and inform us we’re not supposed to use the manual locking system for” health and safety reasons”. Because what’s more likely, the event of you collapsing without been able to get aid, which would be a feat in a room that can be crossed in three steps, or as a teenager/ young adult, you’re spending till mid-morning in bed. A luxury you probably wouldn’t enjoy as much knowing that if you’re a heavy sleeper, there’s the likely hood a staff member can come barging into your flat to check you’ve cleaned the toilet, done your dishes and not stuffed the place full of drugs (the weekly room checks).

But the most disturbing part to all this is that there are minors inside these hostels, under 18’s, who could be quite upset on finding staff have come into their room unwittingly whilst they napped. We’re already being permanently watched with the use of CCTV cameras strategically placed around the hostels compound, for our own safety, I’m told, but it still feel’s like I’m trapped in Channel 5’s big brother once the series budget’s being removed. After all us residents are all raging psychopaths wielding knives in the ‘last chance saloon’ my nickname for the hostel I live at (minus the cowboys and alcohol.) Regardless of the opinions and stigma’s, some of the greatest characters will come through hostels, not anti-social hooligans, just real people, who weren’t afforded the comforts that family should provide, and allow me to assure you now, that even though staff believe we cause enough bedlam to warrant the expense of a motion sensory security system, we indeed do not. We are still people, still human, still feel and still deserve the right to privacy and the right to lock our own damn doors!

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