"Gbolagade Ibukun-Oluwa, 59, has been homeless since 2008 and for the past five years has developed a routine that sees him spending several nights a week in the cafes just outside the departures area. He arrives between 11pm and 1am, as day staff are replaced by the night shift, rotating between a Caffè Nero in Terminal 4 and a Costa coffee shop in Terminal 5, where the workers know him and offer him a cup of hot water. If flights have been cancelled and the cafes are very busy, he takes a bus to a 24-hour McDonald’s on the airport slip road, and waits there until dawn, occasionally managing to sleep for an hour or two in his wheelchair." To read more about this report click on this article by the phenomenal Guardian journalist, Amelia Gentleman.
I met Gbolagade (Bola for short) at a Windrush Surgery in Brixton on Saturday, 18th January 2020. He stood up to speak during the Q & A session and explained his personal circumstances. I was horrified. Here was a disabled man in a wheel who had been rendered homeless for over 10 years on account of the hostile environment and despite being British. His carefully articulated words, the absence of anger in his voice, and his continued faith in the power of God, all came as a shock to me. The tireless lawyer and activist, Jacquie McKenzie promised to see if she could help regularise his status and the BCA helped to put him in accommodation for one or two days.
I later received a phone call explaining that soon after leaving the hotel, he was beaten up and back in hospital. The injustice of his experiences burns. While the community is doing all it can to help him, the funds to accommodate him are hard to come by. Please, please help me to raise money so that we can pay for him to sleep in a Safe Stay Hostel in Central London while his paperwork is being regularised.
He will become extremely vulnerable to the coronavirus if he is left to sleep in his wheelchair at Heathrow airport.
- Pat Herman
- James Baldwin
- Christine Dystant