The Plight Of The Cato Street Residents And Traders
A community of Roma rough sleepers set up camp on the doorsteps of residents and traders in Cato Street, in the London borough of Westminster, and remained there for over 18 months. PHA Media was drafted in to create and manage a PR campaign to find a permanent solution to this difficult community problem. We called it, ‘The Cato Street Clean Up’ campaign.
The occupants of Cato Street sought to return safety and sanitation to their beloved neighbourhood and find a solution to the problem that would bring about permanent change. As well as fouling the area and defecating in public walkways, the Roma rough sleepers committed persistent offenses of anti-social behaviour, and police established links to prostitution and theft. The occupants were concerned that the problem would only intensify when proposed changes in EU legislation were to be pushed through at the end of the year.
We were tasked to launch and raise awareness of the Cato Street Clean Up campaign, which included raising awareness of Roma rough sleepers in the Borough of Westminster and the subsequent problems suffered by residents and traders, whilst working with the Metropolitan Police, Westminster Council, local MPs and London Mayor Boris Johnson to remove the rogue Roma rough sleepers from the area and find a permanent solution to this persistent problem.
We rallied local support through distributing leaflets and creating a platform for occupants to seek support and voice their concerns – through which we secured testimonials from residents and collated a portfolio of images for press purposes. We created a petition which was presented to the House of Commons by MP Mark Field, and regional media outlets were targeted to generate high-profile publicity and apply pressure on the Minister of State for Immigration, the Home Secretary and the UK Border Agency to resolve the situation.
Generated consistent and high profile national and regional media coverage including: BBC News, The London Evening Standard, Hampstead and Highgate Express, West London Today, The Mail Online and ITV News. The Government took notice of our campaign and Romanian police were eventually bought into assist with the arrest of some of the Roma rough sleepers. The Roma rough sleepers vacated the Cato Street area and the residents were delighted.