For Those Who Have Died, And Those Who Will Die This Winter: Alaya's Vigil To Save Lives
Activist Alaya Shunyata has today begun an eight day fasting vigil in Trafalgar Square, both to raise awareness of the thousands who have died as a result of government policies, and to raise funds to try and save other lives this winter.
Alaya, from Norwich, will spend the next seven days and nights in one of the busiest public spaces in London, eating no solid food and drinking only hot honey water and a potassium broth.
"I had no choice - people are being forced into desperate situations" she says,
"There have been 130,000 deaths, 449 homeless people died in the last year, and 90 Universal Benefit claimants are dying each week"
"One of my major concerns is that people need to understand that foodbanks need more than just food: they need things like tents, warm clothing, survival blankets - or more people are going to die this winter"
She believes government policy is deliberately ignoring the problems faced by the homeless, because although they are the people most severely affected by welfare 'reforms' they are the least likely to vote.
"Tory policy has destructively escalated poverty, homelessness, hunger, starvation and death among the citizens of the UK"
Alaya was donated a small 'fast put-up' tent where she will be able to shelter from the elements - and which she will be donating to someone in need at the end of the vigil.
She has attracted support from activists around the UK, some of whom will be joining her at times during the week, and would welcome visits from anyone wanting to add their support, especially at night.
Trafalgar Square was the chosen venue because, as public space, she cannot legally be removed for staging a peaceful vigil. But obviously she recognises that there are clear risks for a woman alone in central London
"I can't guarantee my personal safety, but I am willing to put myself in the same position as homeless people on Universal Credit. I have been training myself particularly to be awake during the night, so I would love people to come along then"
As a practising Buddhist, one thing she is not worried about is hunger. "I'll be drinking hot honey water with cinnamon, which helps the body release glucose, and an organic potassium broth made with plants from a friend's garden. My body knows what to do when I fast"
And London will not be the end - Alaya will continue her fasting vigil in her home town of Norwich straight afterwards, and plans to continue all winter.
Alaya's vigil aims to raise £20,000 to help provide food and other vital items for the homeless and impoverished this winter. All funds raised will be donated to the Trussell Trust.