Protestors sleep out all night as part of national anti-bedroom tax campaign (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Mass sleep-out in Darlington in protest at the bedroom tax
NORTH-EAST protesters spent a night under the stars as part of a national campaign against the so-called bedroom tax.
Rehana Azam, of the GMB trade union, organised the Darlington event to coincide with sleep-out protests happening all over the country on Saturday night.
The campaign sought to highlight public anger and opposition to the cuts being made to welfare payments for people on benefits deemed to have a spare room.
Ms Azam said at its height, the Darlington event saw 34 protestors camp outside the town hall, with 14 staying all night from 9pm to 6am.
She said: “We talked about a lot of issues throughout the night and the interesting thing was that there was a range of people from different walks of life; from a lady who had been homeless in Leeds for two years, to a local college lecturer.
“It makes the issue more real when you are talking to people who are directly affected by it.
“To hear those experiences first hand was an eye opener and strengthened our resolve that we are doing absolutely the right thing in opposing this measure.”
Activist Joanne Land, of Darlington, was among those camped out all night and said keep it was important to keep up the pressure on local authorities not to implement the welfare cuts.
She added: "I got involved with the mass sleep out because I believe that it is vital to build on the public's growing awareness that the bedroom tax is not cutting welfare spending, it is increasing it, and it is an iniquitous attack on the most vulnerable people in society.
“The bedroom tax is ideologically motivated exercise in scapegoating, diverting attention from the real causes of problems in society, and fuelling the bonfire of the Welfare State.”
Darlington mother Joanna Adams, who recently organised a successful rally in the town in support of the NHS, was also involved in the sleep out.
She said it was important for people to fight for social cohesion, adding: “This government seems hell bent on undermining families and community.
“We can't and won't just accept that.”
Mass sleep out events took place in more than 50 towns and cities across the country, with many protestors using social media sites such as Twitter and facebook to communicate with each other through the small hours.
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