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Norfolk woman on week-long hunger strike in protest of Universal Credit

PUBLISHED: 20:30 05 November 2018 | UPDATED: 07:03 06 November 2018

Alaya Shunyata is undertaking a fasting vigil in London to raise money for food banks. Picture: Alaya Shunyata

Alaya Shunyata is undertaking a fasting vigil in London to raise money for food banks. Picture: Alaya Shunyata

Alaya Shunyata

A Norwich woman has gone on a week-long hunger strike and is sleeping rough in a tent in protest of Universal Credit and homeless deaths.

Alaya Shunyata is undertaking a fasting vigil in London to raise money for food banks. Picture: Alaya ShunyataAlaya Shunyata is undertaking a fasting vigil in London to raise money for food banks. Picture: Alaya Shunyata

As crowds of protesters gathered for the Million Mask March in London on Monday, Alaya Shunyata, 51, from Catton, Norwich, pitched up her tent in Trafalgar Square to undertake a peaceful vigil to highlight the plight of the homeless and promote donations to food banks.

For seven days, Ms Shunyata will only survive on honey water during the day and a vegetable broth during the evening.

Ms Shunyata said she was inspired to raise money for food banks after reading about the number of homeless deaths in the past 12 months.

“I am so afraid for the homeless,” she said. “About 449 homeless people have died already this year and that’s before the winter that’s coming up.

Alaya Shunyata is undertaking a fasting vigil in London to raise money for food banks. Picture: Alaya ShunyataAlaya Shunyata is undertaking a fasting vigil in London to raise money for food banks. Picture: Alaya Shunyata

“I am doing this in solidarity with the homeless people, with people on Universal Credit and people who don’t have money to buy food and are affected by Tory cuts.

“In order to speak my truth I am walking the walk as well, that’s why I am in a tent, other people do this 365 days a year.

“It’s going to be hard, it has already been incredibly difficult in an environment I can’t guarantee my safety.”

Ms Shunyata also wanted to highlight the need for food banks to be able to cater for different dietary needs, like diabetes and people with food allergies, and hoped to encourage people to donate specialist foods.

“People need to also donate things like tents, sleeping bags and blankets for the homeless,” she added.

She said she has received a mixed response from passers-by but that generally most people had offered support.

“People have different views about why things are going wrong in this country,” she said. “I’ve had some hate speech today but there has been hundreds of people who have been interested and coming to see me.

“I’ve had a lot of support from police here, they have been absolutely wonderful.”

Proceeds from the vigil will go towards The Trussell Trust food banks. To donate, visit gofundme.com/kvd8p-save-lives-this-winter.

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