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In 1966 campaigners highlighted the appalling conditions at the King Hill hostel in West Malling, Kent. In Essex homeless families were housed in disused RAF huts, however conditions at the hostel were terrible with 45 women and over 100 children sharing communal lavatories and sinks, with no power, gas supply or telephone. In addition husbands were not allowed to stay with their wives and families. Some men had been sneaking in to the hostel at night and had been arrested and sent to prison for doing so. Stays at the hostel were limited to 3 months and irrespective of circumstances families were evicted after this period. Many families were broken up and children taken into care. The protests coincided with the release of the film ‘Cathy Come Home’ which tackled issues of homelessness, unemployment and the rights of mothers to keep their children.
© Henry Grant Collection/Museum of London